How often do you feel like crying?
Do you cry or get upset with the slightest provocation?
Do things that were manageable before now seem overwhelming?
How is your stress level?
Can you handle one more piece of bad news?
If you find these questions challenging (or you think I’ve been spying on you), please know you are not alone. Throughout the globe mental health has taken a hard hit. There are many indicators that each person has struggled more than usual in the past two years.
Managing Your Emotions with Sleep
One of the key factors of managing your emotions is good deep sleep. Sleep, anxiety, and pain are closely linked. Anxiety makes pain feel worse. Pain and anxiety both make it difficult to sleep. Poor sleep makes it difficult to manage anxiety or pain. Sleep is where I have seen the most people break this difficult cycle.
And rarely is medication the way to achieve that kind of restorative sleep. Sleep medications alter the types and depth of sleep you get so rarely do medications, alcohol, or other substances help you feel truly rested in the morning.
So, what can you do? There are several steps you can take for more natural effective sleep. These are often called sleep hygiene. Consider which of these you could add or improve.
Better Sleep Techniques
- Keep your sleep and wake times as regular as you can. I know this can be difficult but if you can, avoid wide variations.
- Leave the screens behind. Ideally stop looking at screens an hour or more before going to bed. And keep them away from your bed. If you need the alarm, use the feature that will keep it silent until time for the alarm.
- Have a wind-down routine. Let your brain and your body know you are getting ready to sleep.
- Make sure to get good movement during the day to differentiate awake from sleep times. Time outdoors and in nature can lower stress, anxiety, irritability, and blood pressure. It can increase endorphins and dopamine to help you feel more positive.
- Do what you find relaxing. A warm bath or shower, gentle stretching, soft music, lavender or other scents you like, and other relaxation techniques can help you calm and relax.
- Use sounds to diminish distraction from a snoring partner or other noises. You can search online for white noise, pink noise, brown noise, rain sounds, ocean sounds, or nature sounds.
- Quiet your mind. One way to do this is deep breathing slowly in and out. Either count slowly in through your nose and out through pursed lips (as if around a straw) or recite a favorite quote or verse while breathing. You can also look for many options for meditation.
- Avoid or minimize length of naps. Too much sleeping during the day will disrupt sleep at night.
- Keep your bed for only sleep and sex. Watching television or studying in bed then trying to sleep can minimize your chances to fall asleep easily and get good sleep.
- If you wake up during the night or have trouble getting to sleep, go back to the breathing to help quiet your mind. If pain is keeping you awake, try gentle stretching then go back to bed.
Use whatever combinations of strategies that work best for you. Of course, another key factor is to get enough sleep. I know several successful people who deprive themselves of sleep in order to obtain a few more hours to work. On rare occasion when up against a big deadline, that is not so detrimental (unless you are driving tired.). Otherwise, this has many long-term negative health effects. Too little sleep increases risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke among other effects.
Controlling your emotions is just one of many positive benefits to taking time and effort to sleep better.
If you would like to know more:
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Dr. Michellle Fritsch is an author, nationally renowned speaker, and founder of Retirement Wellness Strategies. You can call her at 410-472-5078, email her at michell@retirementwellness. com, or visit her website at www. retirewellness.com.