It’s especially important to get enough sleep during stressful times. You may feel pulled in many directions by relationships, errands and work to be done. However, if you sacrifice sleep when you’re stressed, you’ll create a vicious cycle where you’re tired all the time — and you may end up getting sick as a result.
1. Work Out
Exercise relaxes muscles and relieves tension. Just make sure you don’t exercise too late in the day: Since working out is an adrenaline-booster, you may find yourself too wired to sleep. A good rule to follow: Don’t exercise for at least two hours before you go to bed.
2. Relax and Unwind
Relaxation techniques calm you and let you forget your stresses for awhile. Yoga or meditation often does the trick, as does massage or even a nice, warm bubble bath. Aaaah. Lovemaking is also a natural relaxant that can be quite effective before bedtime!
3. Set Your Internal Clock
It’s important to establish a consistent time for going to bed and waking up. Your body becomes used to hitting the sack at a regular time, and this helps you fall asleep more easily.
4. Divert Yourself
Once you get into bed, if you toss and turn and can’t sleep a wink, go into another room and pick up a book for a while, or listen to some music. When you start feeling drowsy, head back to bed.
5. Factor Food In
While you don’t want to go to bed hungry, be careful of what you eat close to bedtime. Spicy, greasy, or heavy foods may not digest well, and can cause you to wake up during the night with an unhappy stomach. Also avoid caffeine within six hours of hitting the sack. Better choices for before-bed snacks include foods high in carbohydrates, such as bagels or crackers, which digest more easily. And don’t forget the old standby, a glass of warm milk — it really may help soothe you to sleep.
If you focus on something as simple as your own breath, you can help eliminate the tossing and turning that often precedes a restless night’s sleep. Deep breathing helps your body unwind, relax and prepare for rest.
The following two techniques — breathing and relaxing yourself to sleep — are modified from traditional yoga postures. Besides being a great form of physical exercise, yoga can also be a holistic sleeping aid. The controlled breathing that you’ll learn in these two exercises promotes deep relaxation, and can ease the mental strains that often block sound sleep.