- catching the ‘butterfly’
- controlling the controllable
- two steps towards sleep
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The #1 Brain Hack To Fall Asleep
According to a recent poll I did in the Insomnia Support Group the #1 cause of insomnia is STRESS.
I’m sure we’ve all experienced the negative effects that high stress levels can have on our sleep. Symptoms can range from having a hard time to fall asleep, not being able to stay asleep or simply experiencing a low sleep quality.
All of this raises the question of what we can do to improve our sleep quality.
Luckily there are only three categories that we need to consider when it comes to our sleep.
- #1 Body
Assuming that the day is nearly over and we are not able to prevent the stress from building up – which would be the best option – I’ll walk you through your options…
Even better – you’re going to write yourself a clear DE-STRESS prescription.
So – let’s walk through the ingredients.
Stress tends to ‘eat’ itself into our bodies. Great news! There are ways to get it out of our bodies again.
Firstly you want to put yourself into a dimmed environment about one hour before you go to bed. That includes putting away your electric devices. Moving in a dimmed environment creates a space for relaxation and spreads natural calm.
Secondly you want to actively or passively fight your stress. A good active option is to have a 30 minute walk physically reducing your stress levels.
If you want to lean more towards the passive option, having a hot bath might be the right thing for you. The warmth will support releasing stress and the after effect of bathing will support falling asleep due to your dropping body temperature.
In regards to your nutrition it is more about what you want to avoid.
Especially when we are stressed it is quite common to lean on alcohol or other relaxing substances. Alcohol gets in conflict with having good REM sleep stages, which which is the stage of sleep in which we dream. It is also the sleep stage known as our natural therapy system. So, instead of having a drink – lean towards a hot cup of valerian or fruit tea (with honey if you can’t get along without sweetening at all).
Furthermore you want to avoid eating right before you go to bed. Best have your last meal 3-4 hours before you hit the bed. Getting rid of poor food options (chips, cereals, sweets, etc.) you might tend to eat on stressful days before you go to bed (e.g. chocolate, chips, sweets) is also a good choice.
Magnesium might be an option for you to supplement your body with. Our body burns through more magnesium when we are stressed AND it is known as the salt of inner calmness. Calm sounds a bit like the opposite of stress, right?
Here are two powerful methods to de-stress your mind.
Muscle relaxation by Jacobson is a great choice for this. Often stress sneaks into our muscles and we are not really aware of it – so it stays there. In the muscle relaxation practice by Jacobson you run through every part of your body (head, neck, shoulders, arms, and so on…) consciously bringing tension into each part of your body. After holding the tension for a couple of seconds you release the tension and focus on how the relaxation of the muscles feels. The result…a de-stressed mind and a relaxed body.
If that doesn’t work for you – simply go with gratitude.
Doing a (daily) 2-3 minute gratitude exercise has been proven to increase
- happiness 25%,
- sleep duration 30 minutes and
- amount of exercise 33%
Most importantly – It is hard (impossible) to feel thankful and stressed at the same time.
Now let’s make sure that you have all of this in place when you experience the next stressful day. To do this, best write yourself a de-stress prescription right now.
Choose at least one thing to do out of our three categories body, nutrition and mind and put it together to build your de-stress evening ritual.
That way – even after a stressful day – you can pull this trigger and sleep will come naturally.
P.S. – If you want to find back to good sleep or improve your sleep quality – get access to the Sleep Recovery Workshop