Sleep is an important part of living a healthy life. Without sleep, your immune system suffers, your energy level will be low, your mind will be unable to grasp some of the tougher concepts of the day and your happiness is certain to suffer. Getting a good night's sleep is a vital part of ensuring that you are able to enjoy every day of your life, and remain a productive worker and great friend.
But getting sleep is difficult - particularly when you have stress and anxiety. Your mind remains active on all of the events of the day, and your worries make it hard to empty your mind and relax. That is why every night before you go to sleep you should consider integrating one of the following pre-sleep strategies.
Before you go to sleep every night, you should try to develop a pre-sleep routine that allows you to wind down in a natural way. Your pre-sleep routine should not have any "exciting" activities, which include watching TV, listening to stressful music, talking on the phone with friends that potentially have their own arguments and problems, exercising, etc. It should be as calm and relaxing as possible, such as sitting with the lights down, lighting some scented candles, etc. It should all start at least 30 minutes before sleep as well. Routines are naturally calming, and can help you reduce your overall anxiety so that you can sleep better.
Another very important task is to write down the thought and worries that you have on your mind before you go to sleep. It's been shown that one of the reasons the brain has trouble letting go of concerns is that it is trying hard not to forget them. Your brain wants to remember - it wants you to be able to continue to keep those things on your mind, because forgetfulness itself can be a stressful thing for your brain. So if you write down your thoughts into a small thought journal so that they are no longer on your mind - whatever your thoughts may be - your brain will be less worried that you will forget them and you can easily move on. Keep your journal by your bed as well, so if you have a persistent thought on your mind while you're trying to sleep you can get rid of it quickly.
There are also several different techniques for relaxing your mind and body before bed. These techniques are natural anxiety reducers, so that no matter how anxious you feel you can remove some of your tension and try to sleep easier. Some examples of these techniques include:
Deep Breathing: This can be done in a chair or lying on your back. Keep your arms rested and your back straight. Breathe in through your nose starting from your stomach and moving to your chest. Do so very slowly and in a controlled manner, so that you are not quickly consuming too much oxygen. Hold for a few seconds, them release through your mouth also in a slow and controlled manner. Repeat 10 times.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation: Designed to relieve physical tension, progressive muscle relaxation involves physically tightening your muscles one at a time, starting at your right food and moving all the way up to your face. Squeeze each muscle (and only the single muscle) for 10 seconds before releasing, and move on to the next muscle.
There are ample additional examples of relaxation exercises that can help you relax your mind, muscles, and body, and all of them are worth implementing before you try to go to sleep.
You can also relieve a great deal of tension before you sleep if you're also trying to remain free of anxiety during the day - since anxiety tends to build up over the course of your life. Seeking help from a trained clinical therapist is a great way to address anxiety disorders and panic attacks and if you can cut down on the amount of anxiety and stress you experience, you will also be able to sleep more easily.
Having a nice cup of decaffeinated tea can also be useful, and natural herbs like Kava and Passionflower are successful at relieving excess tension. Also, eating healthy and maintaining an active lifestyle (exercise and team sports) are also known to benefit sleep.
Before you can sleep, you need to relax your mind and body, relieve your tension, and find a way to drift off to sleep without the worries of the day keeping you awake. Routines, thought journals, and relaxation exercises are a great start, and can help you on your way to getting a regular, good night's sleep once again.