You start to wind down and then boom, your brain fires up, you start thinking and it’s all on for a long haul evening when you should be enjoying rest.
In fact, if you are over thinking or stressed about something, your body has likely awakened the sympathetic nervous system whereby you have activated ‘…a cascade of stress hormones that produce physiological changes…include increased arterial pressure, more blood flow to active muscles and less blood flow to organs not needed for rapid motor activity…’ according to The National Library of Medicine.
Sleep is crucial, but then the stress of not sleeping compiles to make you even more frustrated. It can be a vicious cycle.
It was previously assumed that mental health difficulties led to problems sleeping, however, the reverse may also be true, such that poor sleep contributes to the onset, recurrence, and maintenance of mental health difficulties, according to Sleep Medicine Reviews.
There is much investigation on this.
For now though, here are some practical ways to help you settle into better night’s sleep :
- BRAIN DUMP – get your thoughts out either into your calendar (written or digital), but ensure you feel complete once you close that calendar
- BRIEFLY CHECK TOMORROW’S SCHEDULE – have a look at what is coming up tomorrow so you can rest assured you know what’s happening and can more easily let go of over-thinking for the night.
- GROUND YOUR ENERGY & SLOW DOWN YOUR BODY – for some this is by deep breathing, for example, breathe deep expanding the belly, then exhale slowly. Or by doing an evening stretch like this 12 Minute Deep Sleep Flow.
- ENSURE YOU ARE FEELING READY FOR BED – many say to stick to the same time and same routine of an evening, yes this is the normal routine, but if your body is truly not ready for bed at that point, perhaps do a bit more reading or listen to a mindful meditation for a few more minutes.
- TAKE A BATH (WITH MAGNESIUM OR RELAXING OILS) – One study showed that bathing intervention was more beneficial than showering intervention for mental and physical health. It highlighted that participants’ Profile of Mood State scores were lower for stress, tension-anxiety, anger-hostility, and depression-dejection. Immersion bathing, but not shower bathing, exerts hyperthermic action that induces increased blood flow and metabolic waste elimination, which may afford physical refreshment.
And if you wake up at 2am or other early hours and cannot get back to sleep, try getting up for a bit, doing a few stretches or deep breathing, and do look into this further with a professional if this is ongoing.
Let me know what you do for your evening routine!
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