Argh!! The more stressed at work you get, the more problems you have sleeping and the more tired you become, the more tired you become the less able to cope you are and the more stressed and tired you get…..
It’s a nightmare, or at least it would be if you could get enough sleep to enter a dream state. You lie awake at night worrying – you brain going a mile a minute, completely unable to switch off. And even if you do manage to get a few hours you wake up in the middle of the night, or too early, and you stare hopelessly at the clock fretting on your problems, wanting to sleep but now worrying that you only have 45 minutes before the alarm goes off, and is it really long enough to actually bother sleeping and waking….oh for goodness sake!
It gets even worse again really – you can start getting into some really unhealthy habits – like using alcohol to bring yourself down and relax from all your stress (which messes with your sleep) and not wanting to go to bed too early (even though you are shattered) because that is your precious own time in-between work and you resent cutting it down.
These behaviours are short-term gain for much worse long-term pain though, because the more tired you get, the less chance you have of getting into the objective state of mind you need to be in to tackle your stress situations.
Here are the 5 things to do a great night’s rest if you’re work-stressed.
You need to make sleep a priority, without making yourself depressed. Sleep will help you.
- Go to bed early one night a week. Can’t bear to cut into your leisure time and go to bed early even if you know you should? You cannot run on a permanent sleep deficit, but you can catch up on it in bits. If you just won’t go to bed half an hour early every night, then choose one night when you can go to bed really early (8 or 9 pm, however early you can get it). You’ll have an amazing next day, and the benefits will help you cope better all week long. This works really well if you do it mid-week. When I worked away from home and traveled home on the weekend it was ideal to do this on a Wednesday. I did lose an evening, but I survived the week really well, and have a much better weekend for it. I especially felt the benefit on Friday evening, when I had a fighting chance of staying awake long enough to have at least some fun!
- Wind-down. If your main problem is racing mind and getting to sleep then try some pre-bed relaxation. Do no screens 1 hour before bed, and try a bath or fiction book, anything to do a wind-down process. NOT TV, email, internet, anything that involves effort, or new information.
- Tire your body. If you can try to make yourself more physically tired (not mentally). Get some exercise, get some fresh air – if you can exhaust your body, your mind will be out-voted!
- Make a pleasing environment. Even just seeing a phone, laptop or other communication device is distracting and makes you less relaxed. Take out any source of potential new information. Do a little project to look at your bedroom and see if you make it more soothing to be in. Get a nice feeling bed – nice clean linen, make sure it is all comfortable.
- Change your focus. At lights out try not to think about work. Try a relaxation technique and focus on each part of your body in turn. Start with each toe from your little to big, then your ankle, shin, calf, knee, etc. move up your body and cover everything.
I hope you find at least one of these tips helpful. What works for you? Do you have any tips to share? Post a comment below.