You’re lying wide-awake in bed thinking about your to-do-list, unpaid bills, the day’s disturbing headlines, and the meaning of life itself. You’re tossing and turning in bed when all you want is some decent shut-eye.
Sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone.
Two common problems
Stress is a fact of life. And it impacts sleep for many of us. A survey by the American Psychological Association found that 43 percent of U.S. adults have had their sleep interrupted by stress in the past month.
Stress and sleep interact
For starters, stress and sleep have a Catch-22 relationship: a good night’s sleep helps us better handle stress, but when we’re stressed we often have trouble getting a good night’s sleep.
Stressing about not sleeping
While this is often a temporary problem, it can sometimes take a turn for the worse and trap us in a vicious cycle of sleep difficulty and anxiety. This typically occurs when we actually get stressed about not sleeping, as opposed to stressing out over other things.
Again, that Catch-22 rears its ugly head: Worrying about sleep can actually become a sleep stealer itself.
Break the stress-sleep cycle
The first step to sleeping better is to not stress about not sleeping.
Track your sleep
This is sometimes easier said than done, but this step is key to breaking the escalating cycle of anxiety and sleep deprivation. Tracking your sleep each night can help. By tracking your sleep, you might actually learn that you’re sleeping more than you thought. Research indicates that people experiencing sleep difficulties tend to underestimate their actual sleep amounts, and being provided accurate measurements of sleep lowered anxiety levels.
Take time to relax
The second step is to begin a practice of relaxation techniques and soothing routines, geared toward lowering stress and getting you the rest you need.
Techniques such as mental relaxation exercises are great tools for managing stress, worry, and anxiety and for improving sleep. Breathing exercises, meditation, and yoga are also great, easy, and effective tools for mental and physical relaxation.
Consider trying the S+ Daytime Relax feature.
Find a routine that fits your life
By experimenting with different techniques, you can find the combination that works for you. In turn you’ll stress less about your sleep, and ultimately sleep better. We know the stress in our lives will never completely disappear, but behavioral experts tell us it’s how we manage the inevitable stress that counts.