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How Can I Keep Stress From Interfering With My Sleep?

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Updated March 19, 2012

How Can I Keep Stress From Interfering With My Sleep? Photo from iStockPhoto.com
Question: How Can I Keep Stress From Interfering With My Sleep?
I have quite a bit of stress in my life, and it's affecting my sleep. I frequently have trouble falling asleep because I keep thinking about the stresses of the day. Or, I find myself waking up in the middle of the night and unable to get back to sleep. The quality of sleep I get is not great either. What can I do to get better sleep?
Answer: Attaining quality sleep is very important to your physical and emotional health, as well as your personal productivity, for many reasons. Unfortunately, many people find that stress can contribute to sleep deprivation. It's not uncommon for very stressed people to have the problems you've described. There are many reasons for this, some of which are psychological and some physiological. For example, if a stressful situation is occupying your mind, you may stay awake thinking about it, robbing yourself of precious sleep. In other cases, chronic stress can keep you hormonally off-balance, making it difficult for your body's natural sleep process to occur. Whatever the reason, stress management practices can often help you attain better sleep, either by helping you quiet your mind, or by relaxing your body and encouraging quality sleep. Read this article for more on how stress can contribute to sleep deprivation, and on how you can get quality sleep when stressed.

Another important component of quality sleep is environment. It's important, for example, to sleep in a cool, comfortable environment for the best chances if attaining quality sleep. This article has suggestions for how to use natural sleep aids to create the optimum setting for quality sleep.

Additionally, sometimes our daytime habits sabotage our nighttime sleep, especially when we're stressed. For example, if you're fatigued by stress and need a dose of late afternoon caffeine to keep going, this can negatively impact your nighttime sleep. You'll then wake up less rested the next day and be more likely to need to continue the cycle the next afternoon! This article can give you ideas on healthy habits to promote sleep, such as limiting caffeine after noon.

Finally, if you're truly unable to get quality sleep at night, either because of schedule demands or due to other reasons, I recommend taking a power nap. As long as you don't sleep long enough to affect your nigttime sleep (and if you're already severely sleep deprived, this shouldn't be an issue), a power nap can aid productivity, keep you healthier, and help relieve stress.

Learn more about stress and stress management with these ongoing stress management resources.

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