How to sleep when you’re stressed

Stressed? Check. Sleepless? Check.

Beside yourself because you know your stress is chronic, but you’re yearning to feel well rested again? Check.

Think there is nothing you can do to help the situation?

Check…. Well, until now.

Sleep Well Wednesdays readers, I’m aware you’re probably stressed – we all are.

That’s exactly why I have created this piece for you – to share how you can still get the sleep you need and deserve, even in the face of stress.

But before sharing the how, I do need you to understand more about stress and how it works in the body.

Essentially, there’s two types of stress: psychological and physiological. Psychological stress as in, work, family pressures, financial strain – your conscious, ‘thinking mind’ stress.

And then, physiological stress. This refers to the stress upon the body – e.g. from exercise, alcohol, poor food choices, and for sleep, blue light.

And both drive stress hormone cortisol up, increase nighttime wakings, particularly around 3am, and make it difficult to fall asleep.

How to move past it

Now, with this understanding, we can look at how we can sleep properly, even when you’re stressed.

See, while it may be challenging to lower your psychological stress, it’s much, much easier to reduce physiological stress – and thus see improvements in your sleep.

Despite being two separate systems, we can promote relaxation via either psychology OR physiology – the body doesn’t distinguish between what is causing it to feel more relaxed, all it senses is “I’m more relaxed and able to sleep easier”.

And this is the key advantage.

So – how to lower physiological stress and sleep better?

Step 1: practice my signature bedtime routine each night.

Each element heightens parasympathetic nervous system activity, lowers sympathetic dominance, and helps you move out of fight or flight.

For those who know HRV, know this can increase your HRV too, an indicator of relaxation.

Step 2: support yourself through the day

Mitigate stress – again, via physiology, using essential oils in your diffuser such as Stress Less by Buckley and Phillips.

Containing lemon, ylang ylang and lavender, meta analytic research indicates each of these proponents can lower stress.

Step 3: Remember – you’ll feel better again soon.

Sometimes, taking a moment to recognise what you’re experiencing is temporary, and that you will feel better and sleep properly again, is all we need.

From one stress sister to another, we’re in this together.

*If your stress is overwhelming, please contact Lifeline on 131114 – there is always support available, should you need it.