Sleep tips for stress: The SIX things you should do when struggling to sleep

A good night’s sleep is one of the most valuable things – as waking feeling well-rested can pave the way for a successful day. However, all of us at one point will have experienced a sleepless or disturbed night. Whether this is due to having a newborn, facing stress in our everyday lives or a health condition – disturbed sleep can impact our routines.

With the UK under lockdown, the changes to your schedule can, in turn, affect your sleep.

Getting used to working from home, not working at all or just being at home more can create stress.

Stress can then manifest in many ways, one of these being disturbed sleep.

With the current coronavirus crisis, struggling to sleep is understandable – but there are ways around this.

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Six things to do when struggling to sleep spoke to psychotherapist Jane Barnfield-Jukes about how best to reduce stress and ensure a relaxing night’s sleep.

Ms Barnfield-Jukes said: “Some of us are no strangers to sleep deprivation but often when we have experience of it, with newborns, for example, we know the reward of this loved and longed for human is going to be worth it.

“Not so now. In the strange new coronavirus world many of us are experiencing sleeplessness with no reward or even a viable explanation.”

But is it purely coronavirus which is triggering stress? Ms Barnfield-Jukes explained lockdown could be exacerbating “thoughts and feelings have probably always been there” which previously had been “kept at bay by our often frantic modern lives.”

Ms Barnfield-Jukes said: “In lockdown during the day we can distract ourselves (Netflix has really come into its own), until we go to bed!”

It is when we try to relax without distraction – like when we try to sleep – any stresses can surface Ms Barnfield-Jukes said.

Here are six tips from Ms Barnfield-Jukes on how to ensure a relaxed night’s sleep.

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1. Don’t keep trying to push these thoughts and feelings aside.

Maybe make time in the day to make a list of what keeps you awake at night.

Having worry time is a technique which means you dedicate time to acknowledging stresses and how to resolve them. 

2. Share or speak to a trusted friend.

We process information differently when we hear it out loud.

Speaking often stops the thoughts going around and around in our heads and gives them somewhere to land.

3. If you don’t or can’t talk to someone, (many of us feel this way in our modern oversharing world). Write it down.

A little thoughts book or mind map can really effective if you find that journals create more stress.

In those three o’clock in the morning moments, that prove you are truly wake in the world (not necessarily a bad thing) you can jot down thoughts and delegate to the page anything that’s worrying you.

These thoughts, challenged by the often more rational daytime self, can be better managed and put to one side or sorted if necessary when you are awake.

4. Some people believe that thoughts cause emotions, some feel it’s the other way around.

The truth is it’s probably both.

Give yourself time to sit quietly and explore these thoughts during the day. This way they are far less likely to be able to ambush you at night.

5. Distract yourself.

Listen to a book or an interesting podcast. The likelihood is this will distract you and you will gently fall asleep. If not at least you will have learnt something.

6. Don’t expect too much of yourself.

Many of us are stressed and working harder than ever before, some of us are experiencing the opposite. Acceptance is key. 

In the words of Victor Frankie, “When we are no longer able to change a situation we are challenged to change ourselves.”

Adapt to our new normal, maybe a disturbed night with vivid dreams is your new normal. Just go with it.

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