Sleep well

There’s a close relationship between sleep and mental health. This page covers some tips and ideas to help you get good sleep. Remember, you might need to try a few different things before you find what works for you.

If you find something that has really worked for you, do not hesitate to share that with us. It might help someone else if you do. Please send us a detailed description, and links to video or audio. Thank you.

Bedtime routine

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Turn off electronics before bed (or use an app that allows your screen to omit yellow light instead of blue.. it helps so much!)

Create a calming environment. Try salt lamps, crystals and keeping your place free from mess (or try to… LOL!!!) 

Set the right temperature for sleep

Take a warm bath a couple hours before bed and use calming scents in your skincare routine

Clean before bed

Drink sleep promoting herbal teas

Use calming essential oils

Use flower essences

Wear a sleep mask to block out light (and ear plugs if you really need them)

Listen to calming nature sounds

Watch ASMR videos

Try out white, pink and brown noise

Practice visualization exercises

Progressive muscle technique

Get comfortable

Try out a weighted blanket

Exercise to tire yourself out

Deep breathing, yoga, meditation.. it’s all great for sleep!

Positive affirmations 🙂 Use your mind power!

Eat foods that promote sleep. Reduce caffeine and sugar intake

Snuggle with puppy (optional)

Keep a Sleep Diary

You may find it difficult to work out what’s affecting your sleep. A sleep diary involves recording information about your sleep habits to help you understand your sleep problem and what’s affecting it. If you want to, you can show it to professionals you’re working with, so you can work together to understand the problem you’re having.

A sleep diary could include information about:

what time you go to bed and what time you get up
total number of hours of sleep

overall quality of sleep, ranked 1–5

how many times you wake up in the night, how long you are awake and what you do while you are awake

whether you have nightmares, night terrors or sleep paralysis, or have sleepwalked during the night

whether you sleep during the day, and for how long

any medication you’re taking, including dose and what time you take it

the amount of caffeine, alcohol or nicotine you have

the amount of physical activity you do

what you eat and drink
your general feelings and moods, including any anxious and repetitive thoughts.

 

Food and Drink

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Avoidance of eating fatty meals closer to bedtime can help prevent heartburn, which is a common cause of insomnia at night. 

The key with eating better is to avoid eating close to bedtime, so you avoid reflux. Avoid caffeine six hours prior to bedtime, because caffeine fights a chemical called adenosine, which helps with sleep onset, and getting deeper sleep at night. Alcohol is something that you would also want to avoid close to bedtime. Alcohol will help you feel sleepy and also initiate sleep, but once you’ve metabolized it about two to three hours after ingestion, it will cause fragmented sleep at night.

A lot of times, you will also have to wake up to use the bathroom, which will also fragment your sleep. Not only it is important to be aware of what you’re eating and drinking to help you sleep better, but it’s important to be aware when you’re drinking or eating these things, that will help you avoid insomnia at night.

Resolve stress and worries

It may seem like there’s nothing you can do about stress. The bills won’t stop coming, there will never be more hours in the day, and your work and family responsibilities will always be demanding. But you have a lot more control than you might think. In fact, the simple realization that you’re in control of your life is the foundation of managing stress. Stress management is all about taking charge: of your lifestyle, thoughts, emotions, and the way you deal with problems. No matter how stressful your life seems, there are steps you can take to relieve the pressure and regain control.

Why is it so important to manage stress?

If you’re living with high levels of stress, you’re putting your entire well-being at risk. Stress wreaks havoc on your emotional equilibrium, as well as your physical health. It narrows your ability to think clearly, function effectively, and enjoy life.

Effective stress management, on the other hand, helps you break the hold stress has on your life, so you can be happier, healthier, and more productive. The ultimate goal is a balanced life, with time for work, relationships, relaxation, and fun—and the resilience to hold up under pressure and meet challenges head on. But stress management is not one-size-fits-all. That’s why it’s important to experiment and find out what works best for you. The following stress management tips can help you do that.

Tip 1: Identify the sources of stress in your life

Stress management starts with identifying the sources of stress in your life. This isn’t as straightforward as it sounds. While it’s easy to identify major stressors such as changing jobs, moving, or a going through a divorce, pinpointing the sources of chronic stress can be more complicated. It’s all too easy to overlook how your own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors contribute to your everyday stress levels. Sure, you may know that you’re constantly worried about work deadlines, but maybe it’s your procrastination, rather than the actual job demands, that is causing the stress.

To identify your true sources of stress, look closely at your habits, attitude, and excuses:

 – Do you explain away stress as temporary (“I just have a million things going on right now”) even though you can’t remember the last time you took a breather?

 – Do you define stress as an integral part of your work or home life (“Things are always crazy around here”) or as a part of your personality (“I have a lot of nervous energy, that’s all”)?

 – Do you blame your stress on other people or outside events, or view it as entirely normal and unexceptional?

Until you accept responsibility for the role you play in creating or maintaining it, your stress level will remain outside your control.

Start a stress journal

A stress journal can help you identify the regular stressors in your life and the way you deal with them. Each time you feel stressed, keep track of it in your journal. As you keep a daily log, you will begin to see patterns and common themes. Write down:

 – What caused your stress (make a guess if you’re unsure)

 – How you felt, both physically and emotionally

 – How you acted in response

 – What you did to make yourself feel better

Tip 2: Practice the 4 A’s of stress management

While stress is an automatic response from your nervous system, some stressors arise at predictable times: your commute to work, a meeting with your boss, or family gatherings, for example. When handling such predictable stressors, you can either change the situation or change your reaction. When deciding which option to choose in any given scenario, it’s helpful to think of the four A’s: avoid, alter, adapt, or accept.

The four A’s – Avoid, Alter, Adapt & Accept

Avoid unnecessary stress

It’s not healthy to avoid a stressful situation that needs to be addressed, but you may be surprised by the number of stressors in your life that you can eliminate.

Learn how to say “no.” Know your limits and stick to them. Whether in your personal or professional life, taking on more than you can handle is a surefire recipe for stress. Distinguish between the “shoulds” and the “musts” and, when possible, say “no” to taking on too much.

Avoid people who stress you out. If someone consistently causes stress in your life, limit the amount of time you spend with that person, or end the relationship.

Take control of your environment. If the evening news makes you anxious, turn off the TV. If traffic makes you tense, take a longer but less-traveled route. If going to the market is an unpleasant chore do your grocery shopping online.

Pare down your to-do list. Analyze your schedule, responsibilities, and daily tasks. If you’ve got too much on your plate, drop tasks that aren’t truly necessary to the bottom of the list or eliminate them entirely.

Alter the situation

If you can’t avoid a stressful situation, try to alter it. Often, this involves changing the way you communicate and operate in your daily life.

Express your feelings instead of bottling them up. If something or someone is bothering you, be more assertive and communicate your concerns in an open and respectful way. If you’ve got an exam to study for and your chatty roommate just got home, say up front that you only have five minutes to talk. If you don’t voice your feelings, resentment will build and the stress will increase.

Be willing to compromise. When you ask someone to change their behavior, be willing to do the same. If you both are willing to bend at least a little, you’ll have a good chance of finding a happy middle ground.

Create a balanced schedule. All work and no play is a recipe for burnout. Try to find a balance between work and family life, social activities and solitary pursuits, daily responsibilities and downtime.

Adapt to the stressor

If you can’t change the stressor, change yourself. You can adapt to stressful situations and regain your sense of control by changing your expectations and attitude.

Reframe problems. Try to view stressful situations from a more positive perspective. Rather than fuming about a traffic jam, look at it as an opportunity to pause and regroup, listen to your favorite radio station, or enjoy some alone time.

Look at the big picture. Take perspective of the stressful situation. Ask yourself how important it will be in the long run. Will it matter in a month? A year? Is it really worth getting upset over? If the answer is no, focus your time and energy elsewhere.

Adjust your standards. Perfectionism is a major source of avoidable stress. Stop setting yourself up for failure by demanding perfection. Set reasonable standards for yourself and others, and learn to be okay with “good enough.”

Practice gratitude. When stress is getting you down, take a moment to reflect on all the things you appreciate in your life, including your own positive qualities and gifts. This simple strategy can help you keep things in perspective.

Accept the things you can’t change

Some sources of stress are unavoidable. You can’t prevent or change stressors such as the death of a loved one, a serious illness, or a national recession. In such cases, the best way to cope with stress is to accept things as they are. Acceptance may be difficult, but in the long run, it’s easier than railing against a situation you can’t change.

Don’t try to control the uncontrollable. Many things in life are beyond our control, particularly the behavior of other people. Rather than stressing out over them, focus on the things you can control such as the way you choose to react to problems.

Look for the upside. When facing major challenges, try to look at them as opportunities for personal growth. If your own poor choices contributed to a stressful situation, reflect on them and learn from your mistakes.

Learn to forgive. Accept the fact that we live in an imperfect world and that people make mistakes. Let go of anger and resentments. Free yourself from negative energy by forgiving and moving on.

Share your feelings. Expressing what you’re going through can be very cathartic, even if there’s nothing you can do to alter the stressful situation. Talk to a trusted friend or make an appointment with a therapist.

Deep Sleep Music

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Music can relax you, connect you to your emotions and distract you from worrying thoughts.

Choosing a type of music is a personal preference, and you’re most likely to relax while listening to familiar music that you enjoy. But keep this tip in mind: Slow tunes are ideal. Look for a rhythm of about 60 to 80 beats per minute (BPM), which you’re likely to find among classical, jazz, or folk songs.

Once you integrate music into your bedtime routine, stick with it. The positive sleep effects can build over time, as listening to your relaxing sleep soundtrack becomes a habit that cues your body to prepare for shuteye.

White Noise

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There’s nothing better than waking up after a great night of sleep, feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the day. There are so many benefits of a good night’s sleep in addition to feeling rejuvenated the next morning: it can keep your heart healthy, help reduce stress and ward off depression.

If you have trouble falling asleep or are easily awakened during the night, many sleep specialists recommend trying a sound conditioner or white noise machine. In the book “Say Good Night to Insomnia,” insomnia researcher Gregg Jacobs says these devices work in two ways: by blocking distracting noises and by producing soothing sounds that are relaxing and help to induce sleep.

Turn Off the TV

Some people prefer to fall asleep with the TV or radio playing in the background, but it’s better to turn them off. Although you might be accustomed to falling asleep with the TV or music playing in the background, a part of your brain is still paying attention, which can interfere with sleep.

Additionally, the blue light emitted from the TV and other electronics suppresses melatonin levels, which is the hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Avoid watching TV and looking at bright screens 2 to 3 hours before bed.

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