Relax more often if you want to sleep well

Recent research suggests insomnia is caused by a regular state of hyperarousal. Being ‘switched on’ consistently, as in coiled tightly like a spring, ready to react quickly to danger, is associated with the fight-or-flight response to stress. At such a time, your body and mind are more alert than usual, as they assume you have a need be prepared to react swiftly to survive. However, you need to wind down and relax on and off throughout the day to balance your system and create enough harmony within to sleep at night.

Most people can deal with a small amount of stress easily. But when they face a long period of anxiety, where there’s just no let up, being in fight-or-flight mode becomes normal. They don’t get a chance to let go and relax, and remain in a stressed state. Their body ceases to function like it usually would, as energy pours into reducing blood flow, in case they bleed, tightening muscles and putting them in a position to run or fight. As most of the anxiety people face is psychological rather than physical, the tension created isn’t used in the way it’s meant to be, and the result can be a digestive system that doesn’t function well, reduced immunity, aches and pains, and insomnia.

There are two ways you can deal with hyperarousal so you sleep better. You can reduce stress, and learn how to manage anxiety well. Reducing stress means taking control of your environment as far as possible. You might not be able to instantly lessen conflict in your home that results in anxiety, but you can take a warm bath, exercise, light soothing aromatherapy candles, and listen to gentle music when you have a chance to do so. As well as reducing anxiety, you will be managing stress productively too. Additionally, you can take time out, away from what stresses you, and spend more time with people who support you or aid relaxation. Also, you can delegate, learn to say no, prioritize, or whatever else might lessen pressure.

There are many forms of stress, other than those that are obvious like arguments that cause hyperarousal. You may not think of computer games, horror movies, and tense dramas on the television, or listening to rock music, as stressful. Nonetheless, anything fast, scary, or with stimulating properties, registers as stress in your system and can keep you awake. Even excitement is a form of stress, albeit a pleasant one. Hence, you might not be able to sleep if you are eagerly anticipating an event that will take place the following day. This is when taking positive relaxing action is useful. For example, you could get out of bed and engage in gentle stretching exercises, before settling down with a good book for half-an-hour before turning in again.

The latest research suggests the way to manage continuing hyperarousal is to make doing so commonplace during the day. Therefore, you may carry out deep breathing between daily activities, or at the same time depending on what you are doing. Similarly, you could have soft background music playing as you work or do chores, and use scented candles or incense if you like them. Evening walks, watching the sun go down, and meditating could be habitual activities. Begin to think of regular injections of relaxation as a way of life and you’ll reap benefits.


About bridget

bridget webber

Bridget Webber’s background rests in mental health, counselling, hypnotherapy, NLP and art. She brings knowledge from her experiences into her writing and specializes in emotional wellness and the creation of, rather than search for, joy. You can catch up with her insights and musings on Twitter.

Twitter: @InsightManager

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