Anyone who has ever had a sleepless night knows just how frustrating it can be. You toss and turn, trying to get comfortable, but your mind won't shut off. All of the stressors of the day play on a loop in your head, keeping you awake long into the night. If this sounds familiar, you're not alone; according to the National Sleep Foundation, 50-70 million adults in the United States suffer from sleep disorders.
The Link Between Stress and Sleep
There is a strong link between stress and sleep; when we're feeling stressed, our bodies produce cortisol, a hormone that makes it difficult to fall asleep. Additionally, stress can lead to unhealthy habits like drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes, both of which can further disrupt our sleep. The good news is that there are some simple techniques we can use to help relieve stress and promote better sleep.
Deep Breathing Exercises
One of the most effective ways to combat stress is by practicing deep breathing exercises. When we're stressed, our breathing becomes shallower and more rapid; deep breathing helps to slow down our heart rate and calm our nervous system. To do a deep breathing exercise, simply inhale slowly through your nose for a count of four, then exhale through your mouth for a count of four. Repeat this process for several minutes until you feel your body begin to relax.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation is another great way to reduce stress and promote better sleep. This technique involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups in your body, starting with your toes and working all the way up to your head. To do progressive muscle relaxation, start by sitting or lying down in a comfortable position. Take a deep breath in, then exhale as you tense your toes for five seconds. Release the tension and take another deep breath in; continue this pattern working your way up through each muscle group until you reach your head. Once you've finished tensing and relaxing all of your muscles, take a few deep breaths and allow yourself to drift off to sleep.
If you're struggling with stress-related sleeplessness, know that you're not alone; millions of Americans suffer from sleep disorders every year. However, there are some simple techniques you can use to help reduce stress and promote better sleep. Try incorporating some deep breathing exercises or progressive muscle relaxation into your nightly routine; you may be surprised at how quickly these techniques help you unwind and drift off to sleep!
Northeast Missouri Health Council, Partners for a lifetime of health
Medical, Dental, and Behavioral Clinics in Kirksville, Missouri, Macon, Missouri, Milan, Missouri, and Kahoka, Missouri. Visit our website to find the nearest clinic to you. www.nemohealthcouncil.com