After a marathon meeting day at work or a blowout with a significant other, it may seem impossible to settle in for eight hours of blissful sleep. But those tough times may be when we really need the rest, since skimping on sleep actually makes it more difficult to handle stress Sleep deprivation and stressors: Evidence for elevated negative affect in response to mild stressors when sleep deprived. Minkel, J.D., Banks, S., Htaik, O. Emotion 2012. . So stop tossing and turning. We’ve got the best tips on how to get a good night's sleep even when you’re stressed.
Beat the Bedtime Blues — Your Action Plan
Don’t work in bed
Or even in the bedroom. Turning the sheets and pillows into a makeshift desk makes it harder to see the bed as a place for rest. And definitely put away the laptop, phone, and any other technological devices well before bedtime. The artificial light coming out of these gadgets can mess up the body’s natural sleep cycles.
Go to sleep at a reasonable hour (and make it a habit)
Especially when we’re overwhelmed with work, it can seem tempting to stay up all night putting the final touches on a project. But pulling an all-nighter can make it much harder to focus the next day. And consistently staying up ’til sunrise may impair learning abilities and contribute to higher anxiety levels. (Now that’s something to get stressed about.) Stick to a regular bedtime and things may look better in the morning.
It’s important to take some time to unwind between shutting the computer screen and crawling under the covers. Try taking a warm shower or sipping some herbal tea. If nagging worries are keeping you awake, write them down in a journal. Or mellow out as you’re drifting off with some Enya or classical tunes.
Take a power nap
If the stress monster kept you from getting a solid night’s rest last night, try dozing off during the day. Ten to 20 minutes should be enough to wake up feeling refreshed and more alert. Just make sure to keep naps to the afternoon, so you’ll still be able to sleep soundly at night.