Each new day presents new opportunities. If we’ve slept well, we benefit from renewed energy, stamina and focus. But what happens when we don’t sleep well? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than a third of American adults are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis. Many report suffering from insomnia – an inability to fall or stay asleep often due to stress, environment or health-related factors. According to a New York Times health report, approximately 60 million Americans are impacted by insomnia each year. Those struggling with insomnia are often caught up in a vicious cycle of stress and anxiety that prevents sleep. This lack of sleep leads to further fatigue which in turn, increases stress and anxiety that once again prohibits natural sleep.
Today we live in a fast paced world powered by technology and twenty-four hour access to stress-inducing developments affecting our work, families, health and finances. Even as we try to minimize their intrusion, social alerts, emails, texts and phone calls somehow break through and demand ever-increasing amounts of our attention. And it’s not only government health organizations taking notice; U.S. employers are also concerned. In fact, a 2016 workplace survey conducted by Willis Towers Watson reported that 75% of U.S. employers say stress is their number one workplace health concern. So, what then can be done to minimize the stress and anxiety inhibiting proper sleep and recovery?
PREVENTING THE STRESS CYCLE
As a rule, most individuals require an average of 7-9 hours of healthy sleep per night for optimal recovery. Setting the optimal environment for sleep can help prevent stress build-up and disruptions and allow the body make the most of its resting hours. As noted in our recent article, The Impact of Screen Time and Electronics on Healthy Sleep, it’s important to allow the brain to unwind before bedtime. This is supported by removing electronics from the bedroom (including TVs and smartphones), whereby creating a sanctuary free of distractions. Once the stage is set, mindful exercises can assist in the peaceful, stress-free transition to sleep.
Consider adding these four mindful techniques to your bedtime routine:
- Reflection – Keeping a journal is a great way to reflect on the day, process feelings and track personal developments.
- Gratitude – While much of our day is spent addressing challenges, taking time at the end of each day to focus on the positive aspects of our lives can help to balance our minds.
- Meditation – A singular focus helps to empty the mind of distractions and slow down the speed of mental processing.
- Reading – Enjoying a good book (preferably a physical one) can provide a positive mental break, helping the mind unwind and even fall asleep.
If you’re having trouble falling or staying asleep and would like to enlist the help of sleep health professionals, please contact the FusionHealth Participant Resource Center at email@example.com or 1-877-615-7257.