How to Sleep to Reduce Stress and Improve Your Happiness
Episode #8 of the course The science of sleep: learn how to improve your sleep by Somni
Do you ever feel moody or irritable after a poor night of sleep? That’s because your brain’s ability to manage and regulate your emotions is seriously compromised by sleep deprivation. Today, we will explore the connection between sleep, stress, and your happiness. Then we’ll show you strategies to keep stress low and happiness high with proper sleep.
The Sleep and Stress Connection
Research shows that good sleep can help temper emotional distress. The amygdala, a structure in the brain associated with emotional responses, becomes overactive with sleep deprivation. The result is the feeling of emotional instability. Without proper sleep, the emotional control centers of our brain dramatically overreact to negative experiences. A bad night of sleep can, and often will, leave you emotionally irrational the following day. In a recent study, researchers found that as the quality of sleep declined in an individual, so did the status of their mental health.
After just one night without adequate sleep, higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol can be seen the following day. People who get less than a full night’s sleep feel significantly less happy, more stressed, more physically frail, and more mentally and physically exhausted as a result.
Sleep deprivation leaves us with an emotionally short fuse and makes it harder to control our emotional responses. All this can hinder performance at work, destroy relationships, and eventually lead to severe mood problems like depression and anxiety. It also lessens our ability to cope with stress in a healthy way.
How to Reduce Your Stress and Up Your Happiness
When you consider how significant our social networks are to our happiness and success, it becomes ever more important to get good sleep. We’ve outlined some strategies for you to implement into your daily life. Consider the following:
● Make sure to stop yourself the next time you’re about to react to a situation and make sure it’s not your sleep deprivation doing the reacting!
● Remember the effect sleep deprivation has on your stress levels and happiness next time you consider skipping on sleep.
● Take time to care for your emotional health and reduce your stress levels. This should be a combination of proper sleep, stress reduction activities, and things that make you happy.
What You Can Do to Improve Your Sleep
1. Consider meditation. Restful sleep does not happen overnight. Well, sometimes it does, but meditation can help train the mind in awareness so can we experience it regularly.
2. Journal at night to relieve anxious thoughts from the day. Spend 10-15 minutes at the end of the day writing your anxious thoughts or things that you have to do tomorrow to relieve stress. This will free your mind of those thoughts and allow for better rest.
3. Try to get consistent sleep the next three nights in a row to reduce your stress; getting to bed each night at the appropriate time will allow your body to buffer stress better.
Tomorrow, we’ll show you how to create, design, and implement new healthy sleep habits!
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