April 16th is National Stress Awareness Day, so we’d like you to relax. Kick your shoes off, lean back, and take a stretch on your favorite couch. The Health Resources Network started this day back in 1992 to celebrate the day after taxes are due, knowing that most Americans would finally be able to leave the last few weeks behind and de-stress. And why not? Stress is the leading cause of many mental and physical problems, including loss of sleep. Since we now have a day to be aware of it, we encourage you to use this day to educate yourself on how to eliminate excess stress and get better sleep.Hopefully, most of us already know the importance of sleep. Sleep is an absolutely vital bodily function, and a human really can’t be healthy without it. Sleep allows your body to repair and recharge, fixing muscles and consolidating memories. Sleep for the doctor recommended 7-9 hours onthe right mattress, and you will have optimal memory, good judgement, and be in a great mood. But, if you skimp on sleep, you run the risk of increased anxiety, poor performance, and being downright unpleasant to be around.The interesting thing about stress and sleep is that the two feed each other: get poor sleep and you will have more stress; have more stress and you’ll find it harder to sleep! Like the old dilemma about getting a job without experience and vice versa, how can you be sure to get enough sleep during stressful times in your life?We think that this is one of those dilemmas where having the right strategy in place can work wonders. If you can cope with and minimize excess stress, sleeping will be much easier. And, if you get better sleep, the stress itself will be that much easier to deal with.If you’re ready to break this cycle and enjoy all ofthe health benefits of better sleep, grab a pillow, get comfortable, and read on. Not only will these tips de-stress you, but you’ll thank us in the morning after getting your best sleep! Enjoy!
Know the Enemy
The first step in creating a good stress coping strategy is to figure out what’s causing the problem. In this case, this means asking yourself what makes you feel the most stressed. Is it at work? Certain times of day? Dealing with your children or spouse? Who or what causes you stress? Once you know what it is you’re up against, you can address those specific areas and decide what might make them less stressful. Do this consistently, and you’re on the road to better sleep.For example, if you feel the most stress at work, see if you can take more breaks. Learn somebasic meditation techniques, or perhaps even take a vacation. If your morning commute is causing you the most stress, perhaps join a carpool, use public transportation, or take a different route. If your family is the issue, you can discuss the problem with your stress-causing family members or seek counseling. There’s always a chance of solving a problem once you know what it is.And of course, sleeping earlier, eating better, and using a high-quality mattress are always great ways to get better sleep. Refreshing, restful sleep reduces stress in and of itself, so finding a way to do that should always be tops in any strategy to de-stress.
Utilize Your (Real) Social Network
These days we hear a lot about digital social media and its various strengths and drawbacks. How about getting off the internet for a second and taking the time to reconnect with your family and friends?Besides the fact that it’s free, the beauty of going to family and friends for help with managing stress is that they know you best. If figuring out what’s stressing you out is difficult, talking over your challenges with your loved ones may reveal some answers that you didn’t think of. You don’t necessarily have to include them in your coping strategy so directly if you don’t want. Just taking some time to call your parents, having coffee with an old friend, or spending some quality time with your children or significant other can be a much-needed escape from life’s stressors by itself. Weekends exist for a reason – why not turn them into a time to de-stress with your friends and family?For the single set, creating that social network in the first place is a good way to de-stress too. Volunteer to help out a not-for-profit organization. Your local library often has activities on weekends that you can be a part of – why not see what’s happening in your community and become a part of it? The people you meet and the friends you make will create that social network that can help you de-stress too.
Exercise is an activity that’s inherently stress relieving. If you’ve been looking for an excuse to get back to the gym, reducing stress, and getting better sleep is probably among the best reasons to do it!There are several ways in which exercise can reduce stress. For one thing, exercise pumps up your endorphins. These are your brain’s neurotransmitters that make you feel good. For another, exercise has a meditative quality in and of itself. If you get caught up in whatever activity you’re into at the gym, it will distract you from whatever negative thoughts are stressing you out. A good game of tennis or a couple of laps in the pool can do wonders when it comes to managing stress. The sense of accomplishment that you get from achieving some significant exercise goal or even going to the gym itself builds your self-confidence and can defeat stressful anxiety. Just knowing that you’re able to do something that everybody knows is good but that can be somewhat of a challenge to do naturally makes you feel more fulfilled and less stressed.Finally, going to the gym gives you the easiest route to sleeping – fatigue! A tired body ona premium mattress is a formula for sleep that no amount of stress can overcome. Getting a few hours of rigorous exercise is just what the doctor ordered to fall asleep easily and defeat daily stress. (Just make sure your give your body two hours or so to cool down so you’ll be able to catch those stress-reducing z’s. Trying to sleep while you’re still pumped up is a challenge that might stress you out!)
Almonds – contain tryptophan, an amino acid that helps you stay asleep and enhances sleep quality
Cheese – also contains tryptophan, but use it sparingly - cheese contains lots of fat, and too much can upset your stomach
Lettuce – contains lactucarium, a substance shown to induce sleep
Tuna – is a source of vitamin B6, which promotes the production of melatonin
White rice – white rice has a high glycemic index, which means that it will spike your blood sugar and insulin levels, making you sleepy
Cherry juice – has both melatonin and tryptophan
Chamomile tea – a favorite sleep aid for years inhomeopathic or “natural” medicine
Elk meat – contains twice the tryptophan of turkey and tastes very similar to beef when grilled
Use the Best Bed
At the end of the day, if you want refreshing, stress-reducing sleep,make sure you have a supportive, comfortable mattress. If you’ve got a box spring that’s more than eight years old, all it’s doing is giving you a flat surface to sleep on (assuming it has no other problems). If you’re suffering from back pain though, remember that there’s plenty of evidence to show that trying to live your life inpain is often one of the greatest stressors of all. Whatever you can do to reduce that will help you immensely, both de-stressing and sleeping better.The combination of features provided by a Lull mattress are designed to eliminate stress while sleeping. The 1.5” top layer of gel-infused memory foam redistributes weight to reduce pressure to your neck, joints, and lower back. This counteracts any muscle or back pain you might experience while sleeping. The mattress basically hugs your body, and keeps it at 69 degrees, the scientifically-proven ideal temperature for better sleep.A Lull mattress distributes motion too, giving you perfect bounce back. Amazingly, this also allows whoever you sleep with to get in and out of the bed without disturbing you! Sleeping with another stressed person that tosses and turns in bed can be a nightmare, and a Lull mattress can reduce that stressor right away.Finally, that 1.5” memory foam provides a therapeutic layer for perfect spinal alignment. It will make you feel like you’re sleeping on a cloud, snoozing your stress away. With a ten year warranty, you won’t be dealing with the stress of finding a new mattress for quite some time either. And, once you experience a Lull, you’ll know what you’ll be looking for!National Stress Awareness Day is about knowing and eliminating the factors in our lives that cause us undue stress. Sleeping should never be one of them if you know what to do. Besides developing a sound strategy to deal with excess stress, make sure you have the right tools. Theright bedding, pillows andmattress can work wonders in helping to keep you healthy and stress free. Sleep well!