Sleep is an essential part of our overall physical and mental wellness. Disrupted sleep — or getting less than the recommended eight to nine hours on a nightly basis — can lead to a whole host of health issues.
Because stress is a common sleep disruptor (how many of us battle with anxieties as soon as our heads hit our pillows?), we talked with Nicole Issa, Psy.D., a clinical psychologist who specializes in stress management, and asked her for a few simple ways to reduce stress before we climb into bed.
Simple Nighttime Activities to Reduce Stress
Turn Nightly Activities Into Mindfulness Rituals.
By turning nightly habits like brushing your teeth into a mindfulness ritual, you can work on being more present. “Pay attention to the sound (especially if electric) of your toothbrush, the feeling of the bristles on your teeth, the taste of your toothpaste,” Issa said. “The recommended two minutes of brushing is a great time limit for practicing mindfulness!”
Mindfulness meditation, which can be anything from closing your eyes and meditating, to being extremely “in the moment” (like Issa’s example of teeth brushing), has been shown to help reduce anxiety and stress. And the great thing about turning your nightly tooth brushing into a mindfulness ritual? You’ll actually be giving your teeth the full two minutes they need to be as healthy as possible, which is especially important if you have sensitive teeth. Combat any stress around tooth sensitivity by brushing twice a day with Sensodyne Rapid Relief, a cavity-fighting, breath-freshening toothpaste that can bring relief for sensitive teeth in as little as three days.
Create a No-Phone Zone.
According to Issa, one of the best ways to keep stress at bay before bed is to make your bedroom a “no-phone zone.” “Not only will this be helpful with regard to reducing exposure to blue light (which has been shown to interfere with sleep), but it will dramatically help reduce stress before bed,” Issa said. If you have a partner, Issa says that making a pact to leave your phones outside the bedroom could also improve your relationship!
Schedule Worry Time.
“If you find that you are frequently laying in bed at night worrying, see if you can implement scheduled worry time during which you journal about your worries to get them out and on paper,” Issa advised. “If you have scheduled worry time every day at 6 p.m. for 30 minutes, for example, when worries crop up during the day or at night, you can gently redirect yourself by reminding yourself that you can worry about that during worry time.”
Because these activities are all designed to help keep you “in the moment,” even though they’re simple to implement, they can be quite effective in quieting the mind and helping you stay grounded. Try them for a few weeks, and see if you notice a difference in the quality of your shuteye!