Overcoming Anxiety: Tip #23
Getting enough sleep may not always be at the top of our priority list. We may get caught up on social media, want to watch just one more episode of our favorite TV show, talk with friends, or be up with our kids. Then, when we finally commit to trying to fall asleep, we may feel anxious about an upcoming project at work or school, and toss and turn for longer than we'd like.
The result? A tired, sluggish morning that can last throughout the day. When we have tasks and responsibilities to carry out, the anxiety can be magnified with poor sleep. We may not be able to give our full attention, and what usually seems like a challenging, but possible task, may seem several notches more difficult. A good night's sleep allows our mind to think more clearly, and our body to feel best.
While many factors may interfere with our ability to get a good night's sleep, a solid bedtime routine can make all the difference - and this isn't just for kids, it's for adults too!
What do I mean by a bedtime routine? Well, it all starts with thinking about what time you will be waking up. If your alarm is set for 6:00am, falling asleep by 10:00pm will be ideal. Now, this does not mean watching TV, using your iPad, and staying on the phone with your friends until 9:59pm. It takes time for our minds to unwind, relax, and feel ready for sleep. Technology is a stimulant, and when used excessively in the evenings, can make it that much more different to get some proper shuteye.
To gradually tell your brain it's time for bed, think about the following sample bedtime routine:
It is advisable to turn off all electronic devises one hour prior to your established bedtime. It may be tempting to check your phone, but remind yourself why a good night's sleep is so important. Then, use that hour to spend time with your partner, read a good book or magazine, have a hot cup of soothing tea, and/or practice deep breathing exercises. You may even play some calming music, journal, or engage in a meditation exercise. These activities prepare your mind to slow down for a peaceful, relaxing sleep. If you find you have a lot on your mind, write down in a few words what you are worried about, or what tasks you need to accomplish the following day. That way, they are waiting for you when you wake up, and you don't have to worry about forgetting.
Create a sleep routine that best fits your interests, and practice it for a full week. Make a mental (or written) note about how you felt before and after incorporating this routine. If you feel calmer, more alert, and better rested, continue to make this a nightly routine. If not, see what part of the routine you can tweak, and try again.
And remember, a good night's sleep has numerous benefits not listed above. Not only do we feel calmer, sharper, and more alert, but we relate better to others, are in a better mood, have more patience, are more productive, we better manage our weight, protect our immune system, and overall have more energy. Those sure are a lot of benefits!
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