Counting sheep is so overrated. We've all done it. And it simply doesn't work. Reciting alphabet backwards, shutting your eyes off like you're going to burrow your eyelids into your face, flipping pillows, turning to sides, lying on your stomach, switching position for the nth time--- we've all done it. We've even come to that point where sleeping is a need and not a routine.
Working graveyard shift, I find it hard to force my body to sleep, especially if it's really sunny when I get home. But other than environmental factors and varying schedules, the thing that keeps me from sleeping is stress. Is it just me? Or are we really supposed to zombify ourselves in order to function at work?
Last time I checked, it's the work that steals my sleep. Thinking about what you missed, rewinding how your day went, the people you encountered, new friends you made, and your bosses who aren't easily pleased--- in my case, it's my patients. Not all, though. But gee, it's stressful enough just thinking about 'work' itself. When I was in college, I doze off as soon as I close my eyes. Like clockwork. 1,2,3..sleep. Just like that. I don't know what changed or what bad routine I adapted, but I was able to go back to that as soon as I learned how to de-stress.
This may help you, too! Let's start with the basic one- ACCEPTANCE. Don't worry, you are one with a million others. You can deny that you're stressed and pretend that you're the cool and chill yuppie at school or the plain lazy ass monkey at work, but unless you face the problem head on, your sleeping pattern will not be patterns at all. But a random thing that happens at any given time of day. Or night if you're lucky.
STRESS AFFECTS OUR SLEEP
Ok, let me say this straight, not all stressors are bad for you. Surprise, surprise! In fact, right amount of stress is needed in order for you to function effectively. You need it to stay on top of your game. It's the reason you beat the deadline, and the cause of most of your accomplished tasks. We call positive stress, eustress. But when does it start to affect your bedtime cycle?
It's when your anxiety kicks in. Stress and anxiety are soul sisters; they actually have the same last name- Nightmare. You don't want to meet them, do you? It's also when your stress level is too much. Remember the last time you forced yourself to do overtime, or read one more page, or watch one more episode of your favorite Netflix show? That's when you forget to relax and pause for a minute. We call it distress. Tension builds up in our bodies like legos that kill us every time we step on them. (bruuu!)
Stress actually turns into physical symptoms. Don't believe me? Which of these symptoms did you experience in the past days without enough sleep?
More than three? Uh, oh. So what can we really do to reduce stress and get a good night sleep?
Get moving. Muscles are less likely to be tensed when you do stretching or cardio workout. By decreasing your muscle tension, you're actually giving your body some space to breathe and relax. I really don't exercise that much (although I should), but a little stretching every now and then helps a lot. Let's release some endorphins, y'all!
2. Happy, healthy thoughts
I self-talk. A lot. Sometimes it's great, but other times it's annoying and uncontrollable. That's why I write/blog. Some things I do to have healthy thoughts is to read and watch shows and TEDtalks that I really like. Gone are the days that I'll follow whatever's trending. I learned to value quality "me" time. Bible reading, bullet journaling are some of the good things that happened to the anxious me.
3. Better diet
Less sugar. Less caffeine. No soda. More fruits and grains. I can't stress this enough: we are what we eat. I used to drink more than five cups of coffee per day; trending it down to one per day made me more energetic and alive. Less acid in our bodies truly makes wonders.
4. Less loads
Doing overtime or taking too much responsibilities could bring you more harm than good. Find your balance. Weigh things, and only choose what really matters most. You only have one body after all.
It's only you who can know what relaxes you most. Aside from reading, I found a weird Youtube channel that helps me sleep. It's like my go-to page whenever stress is high and my sleep is rock bottom. Have you ever heard of ASMR? I didn't know what it means before but researching about it, here's what I found: it actually stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. I was browsing Youtube, looking for some relaxation videos, then I stumbled upon GentleWhispering channel. Could you believe that most videos there are with more than a million views? Search it yourself, and be among the weird people. LOL.
Hope you have a good night after