Written By: DiveThru Team
Reviewed By: Natalie Asayag MSW, LCSW
Written By: DiveThru Team
Reviewed By: Natalie Asayag MSW, LCSW
You finish off that last episode of New Girl and tell yourself no more Nick Miller for the night. Shuffling to the bathroom, you brush your teeth and scrub your face and think about the angel sleep you’re about to have. You throw the covers off, slide into the soft sheets and your head hits the pillow. If the next thing that happens isn’t a peaceful slumber, you haven’t released the stress and tension of the day.
The effects of stress on sleep (and vice versa) have been studied in depth over the last few decades. Guess what the findings say? According to research compiled by healthline, poor sleep negatively affects your hormones, your performance in physical activities, and your brain function.
But wait, there’s more.
Researchers have confirmed that we are getting less sleep AND the quality of that sleep has decreased. And we’re not just talking about adults. CDC reports that 58% of middle school students and 73% of high school students are getting insufficient sleep on a school night.
So at least you’re not alone? A shitty night’s sleep for everyone! JK we want the opposite of that.
Shall we even mention the sleep schedule of a college student? 48 hour all-nighters are a rite of passage. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine goes on to highlight the crucial element of sleep in the successful performance of a college student.
If you are having trouble sleeping, you are not alone. The stress and anxiety surrounding work, personal life or even current events has led many to really restless nights.
We spoke with our in-house mental health professional, Natalie Asayag LCSW, and she has a few strategies to help you get a better sleep. These actionable tips will help you release the tension that naturally builds up throughout the day, the week, the month.
Let’s DiveThru Natalie’s suggestions.
Personalize the heck out of this one. Maybe this includes a shower, dry skin brushing and reading, or something entirely different. Whatever you choose, ensure it feels natural for you. Bonus points for you if you make it easy and not time consuming so you can stick to doing it every night!
Prior to falling asleep, write down your worries, fears or concerns and lay them to rest. This will help “unload” the thoughts from your mind and onto the page. Literally. They plop down onto the pages of your journal and they’re never heard from again. Well, at least for one night!
If you’ve been following our blog for some time, you know that we’re all about doing the things that calm your mind. We wouldn’t be if we didn’t know with certainty that it works so well! Download the DiveThru App (for freeee) and browse through the mindfulness exercises we created to cultivate calm and ease the feeling of overwhelm.
Try a sleep meditation, and/or a white noise sound to help ease you to sleep. This recommendation comes from our in-house mental health professional who knows it will help calm your nervous system, which triggers or eases levels of anxiety within the body. Listen to Natalie, fam. She knows her stuff.
Focus on breathing deeply. Even if all you take is a few counts, make sure you breathe into your belly. As you exhale, let your worries fall off one by one.
Have you noticed that your worries and fears get a little bigger at night? A little more intense and a little heavier than usual? You’re not alone in that feeling. Allow yourself to “table” your worries and reconsider them in the morning. If you take a few moments to check in with yourself upon waking, you will likely find the same thoughts you were concerned with in the evening do not feel quite as “loud” as they do at nighttime.
Work to limit your news intake after a certain point in the day. If you enjoy watching TV, consider watching lighthearted, silly shows. Jake Peralta is bound to get some laughs out of you, just like Schmidt and Winston can. 13/10 recommended.
It’s not just the TV intake that Natalie suggests limiting. We also come across news on our social media so be sure to take some time away from your phone too.
Practicing gratitude can be especially challenging during stressful times, but this is really when it is most needed. Do your best to allow yourself to shift into gratitude prior to bed, whether that means writing it down or simply thinking through these thoughts. This allows you to drift into sleep with a more calming focus.
If you are noticing anxiety or stress feeling more elevated prior to bed, allow yourself to focus on what you can control. In times of uncertainty we can easily get caught up in fearful thoughts. Shifting your attention to what you are able to control, even if this simply means your breath, is a very helpful practice.
The obvious answer to quality sleep, but one that can be hard to follow: be mindful of your caffeine intake. Caffeine can heighten anxiety and limit quality sleep. Consider cutting off caffeine intake at a certain point in the day and remember that many drinks have caffeine — even tea, soda and decaf coffee!
Do your best not to do work in your bed, especially when it is close to bedtime. If you create a boundary around work, your mind will more easily shift into sleep mode when you slip under the sheets, rather than working to separate work time from bedtime.
Note when you are beginning to feel sleepy. Often we ignore these cues, instead choosing to watch another episode or scroll a bit more to distract from reality. Do your best to be honest with yourself regarding your level of tiredness. Think through the consequence of watching an extra show versus allowing yourself to drift off to sleep as your body is signalling you to do so.
Whether you try them all, or just a handful, we hope these strategies help you get the rest you need.
Because journaling is so so so good for you, we recommend starting your journey there. The benefits of establishing a mindfulness practice or starting journaling therapy are endlessssss. Most notably among them? A quieter and more rested mind. If you don’t know where to start, download our DiveThru App and browse through the hundreds of free resources.
Time to put your mind at ease and go after those zzz’s. (too cheesy? ya we love it!)