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How to stop stress from stealing your sleep

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There’s nothing worse than lying awake with thoughts and worries racing through your head when you know you need to wake up early the following morning. Given the stresses and strains of modern family life, it’s no wonder that many of us are missing out on almost a full night’s sleep every week (Royal Society of Public Health). To further complicate matters, our sleep is often disrupted by smartphones, inconsistent bedtime routines, and too many caffeinated drinks.

But there are measures you can take to switch off negative thoughts and get a restful night’s sleep. These four tips will help you to de-stress before bedtime, meaning you can wake feeling refreshed and full of energy. Just read on to learn more.

Cut out the caffeine

During a busy day, it can be tempting to drink lots of caffeinated drinks to stay alert, especially if you didn’t get enough sleep the night before. But, drinking caffeine to feel less tired can actually be counter-productive. As caffeine is a stimulant, it can continue to keep you awake through the night, meaning you’re even more tired the next day, creating a vicious cycle of wakefulness and caffeine consumption. To stop this from happening, The Sleep Health Foundation recommends avoiding caffeine for four hours before you go to bed.

If you’re a tea and coffee addict and like to have a brew before you go to bed, try swapping your usual hot drink for a decaffeinated alternative. You could also try specialised bedtime teas, which contain a variety of natural botanicals thought to aid relaxation and sleep.

Write a to do list — and then forget about it

All too often, we climb into bed after a long day only to lie awake worrying about everything we need to do the next morning. To help clear your mind and switch off those niggling thoughts, try writing out your to-do list an hour before you plan to go to bed. Include everything you need to do the next day, and what order you plan to do it in. This way, you can relax and wind down for bed without worrying you’ve forgotten something.

Once your list is done, try to forget about it. Put your list to one side until the morning, and spend half an hour doing something else to take your mind off the next day. What you do is up to you: you could read a book, or try some gentle yoga to get your body relaxed and ready for bed. This ten-minute yoga routine from Yoga By Candace is simple enough for beginners to follow, and can be done while sitting on your bed.

Practice good sleep hygiene

Sleep hygiene is the practice of sticking to a bedtime routine to get better quality, restful sleep. Establish a regular bedtime, and be strict about sticking to it. This will train your body to fall asleep at the same time every night and, because you’ll get used to having a consistent amount of sleep, it also makes it easier to wake naturally in the morning.

In addition to setting a regular bedtime, it’s important to think about your sleeping environment. Ideally, your room should be cool: the ideal bedroom temperature is 16–18°C, according to The Sleep Council. Your mattress should be comfortable and supportive, and your room should be dark, so consider fitting blackout blinds if you have streetlights outside your window. If you’re particularly sensitive to outside disturbances, then an eye mask and ear plugs could be the solution for you.

Avoid blue screens

The blue light emitted by most electronic devices like televisions, computers, and smartphones can interfere with our circadian rhythm, tricking our brains into thinking it’s still daylight and limiting our bodies’ production of melatonin, the hormone that induces sleep. For many of us, our smartphone is the last thing we see at night and the first thing we look at in the morning: given our dependence on electronics, it’s no wonder that many of us struggle to get to sleep.

If you can’t avoid checking your emails before you go to bed, consider installing a blue light filter on your gadgets. Many modern smartphones, laptops, and tablets now come equipped with a night light setting that will filter the blue tones from your display, allowing you to use your electronics at night without altering your circadian rhythm. If you need more help, this guide to using a blue light filter from Digital Trends should help you get started.

About the author

Mike Pitt is the Managing Director at Dormeo where they believe that absolutely everybody has a divine right to get the very best sleep they can get. Dormeo is one of the world’s fastest growing mattress brands with products available in 40 countries around the world. www.dormeo.co.uk

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