Sleep & Stress 

A lack of sleep can be the cause of stress or it could be a symptom. We have all had the situation when you know you have to be up early in the morning, but you can't get to sleep and the more you try, harder it is. Equally, I'm sure that most of us have been in the situation where you find yourself awake in the early hours of the morning unable to go back to sleep because your mind is going nine times to the dozen. 
 
None of us function at our best when we are tired, so a lack of good sleep can have serious implications. 
 
If the lack of sleep is because of stress, then addressing the stress should be the first port of call. There have been quite a few articles in my blog which may help with this - and why not try the mindful breathing exercise which is available for free here. This is a great exercise to do just before you go to sleep as it should make getting to sleep easier and will help your stress levels too. 
 
 
 
 
A couple of tips - first, try not to look at your phone/ipad/laptop for at least an hour and a half before you go to sleep. The light of the phone can restrain the production of Melatonin which is the hormone that controls your sleep/wake cycle. Also, the time before you go to bed is a time to wind down and not get engaged in social media! Try reading instead - this works for me as literally within two or three pages my head is nodding as I struggle to keep my eyes open (something my wife for some reason finds hilarious!) 
 
Consider what you are drinking in the evening - caffeine is a stimulant so if you struggle with going to sleep, have a cut off period and don't drink caffinated drinks (coffee, tea energy drinks etc) after that. 
 
I find it much easier to go to sleep if I have classical music playing quietly in the background. My wife on the other hand prefers to listen to audio books, but this engages my brain to much and keeps me awake until the CD is finished! 
 
A relaxing bath with candles works for some - certainly I associate a bath with nighttime and a shower with a wake up wash in the morning. I don't want to be invigorated just before I try to sleep! Certain essential oils can also aid in help - lavender for one, so perhaps try spraying your pillow with lavender scent. 
 
Finally, try not to get too worked up by a lack of sleep. If you can't get to sleep and you are tossing and turning and getting more and more agitated because you can't sleep, then turn on the light and read for a while. If I wake up in the middle of the night because my mind is racing, I don't try and fight it but get up, write some notes and get it all out of my system before laying down to sleep again. Then, if I need it, I'll grab a quick nap in the afternoon - no more than 20 minutes. 
 
I hope this has been useful - but why not let me know what ways you have to get to sleep. I'd be really inerested to hear what strategies you have. 
 
 
 
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