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How to Manage Stress at Bedtime

Everyone deals with stress. It’s a part of daily life. And eight in 10 Americans say they feel stress sometimes or frequently during the day.

Stress is a natural reaction to challenges. When we’re stressed, we get a boost of energy with an elevated heart rate and higher blood pressure. It’s nature’s way of offering support as we deal with threats or challenges. However, experiencing stress all day every day is not good for your health, and can result in increased cardiovascular risk, smoking, overeating, and headaches. Common sources of stress include politics, money, work, violence, and crime.

But for some people, stress is debilitating, and can interfere with sleep quality. We may stay up at night thinking anxious thoughts, or find it difficult to get good quality rest while feeling particularly stressed.

In fact, it’s common for adults who experience high stress to say they don’t sleep enough because their minds race at night. And 35 percent of teens, 31 percent of Millennials, and 27 percent of Gen Xers say stress keeps them up at night.

And although stress can so easily interfere with sleep, getting a good night’s sleep can relieve stress. When we’re well rested, we’re more mentally and physically prepared to face the challenges of the day at full capacity. If we’re short on sleep, we may struggle to concentrate, manage emotions, or deal well with fatigue.

What to Do to Relieve Stress and Sleep Well

Combining stress relief and healthy sleep habits can offer a better night’s sleep and may improve your stress levels throughout the day. Take these steps for relief:

  • Manage stress with relaxation practices. Proven stress relievers may make it easier to calm down and relax before bed and get a good night’s sleep. Practice yoga or meditation as part of a bedtime routine to wind down and release tension before it’s time to rest.
  • Keep a journal next to bed. If stressful thoughts at night are a problem, a journal may help.
  • Address fears. It’s ok to feel scared at night sometimes. Dark shadows, strange noises, and general uneasiness plague adults as well as children. Consider comfort items, such as a nightlight, which may make it easier to feel more secure at night.
  • Commit to healthy sleep. Good sleep can support stress relief, so practice healthy sleep habits. Keep a regular sleep schedule and maintain a regular bedtime routine. Steer clear of pitfalls including late night screen time and caffeine.
  • Get support for stress. No one has to go it alone when dealing with stress. Talk to friends, family, and counselors who can help when working through stressful situations that call for help.
  • Eliminate stress as much as possible. Overdoing it can easily lead to stress, so it may be a good idea to cut back. If possible, eliminate stressful activities and prioritize commitments.


Stress and sleep often go hand in hand, so improving one can often improve the other. Focus on managing stress and practicing healthy sleep habits to support good mental health.

Sara Westgreen is a researcher for the sleep science hub Tuck.com. She sleeps on a king size bed in Texas, where she defends her territory against cats all night. A mother of three, she enjoys beer, board games, and getting as much sleep as she can get her hands on.

Setting the Stage – the Night Time Routine

If you pay close attention to how you feel throughout the day, it will likely become obvious that we generally rise and settle with the sun. We feel energized and active during the day, then slowly begin to feel more relaxed and sleepy as the night fades to black. This is part of a physiological process called a circadian rhythm that all living things experience. Our bodies are designed to flow with the earth’s movement, and as such we naturally want to wake and sleep with the sun. That is why our bodies produce hormones, seratonin and melatonin, that help to do exactly that.

During the day we shouldn’t have much of an issue staying alert — generally we wake up to an alarm, it is bright and loud throughout the day, and we are constantly stimulated by our phones, computers, videos, TV screens, music, people, etc. The issue isn’t turning it on – it really comes down to be able to turn it off when we get home. So many of us are into the routine of rushing home from work or the after work gym session, watching the news, listening to music, our late night shows, maybe sending those last minute emails – and we don’t realize that we’re stimulating all those active, awake hormones (seratonin) instead of the sleepy time, ‘relax now’ ones (melatonin).

This is why I advocate bringing back the night time routine, which never should have been abandoned past the toddler years to begin with. However, for adults I refer to it as ‘Setting the Stage’. It’s a term coined from the loveliest of friends, whose home I always feel super relaxed and comfortable in. As I get home from my day, regardless of what I still need to accomplish, I put on relaxed clothes, I dim the light, I turn on a diffuser or burn some incense, and I light my candles. I might do a little yoga sequence, make dinner, read for a bit, make some notes for the next day or what-have-you, but I try to avoid anything that might be overly stimulating to my brain. If I need to be on my computer or using my phone, I dim the background lighting way down. By allowing my brain and my senses to relax, I am also allowing my body, mind, muscles, nerves, and everything else to just RELAX.

This is how you set the stage to calm your adrenal system (the fight or flight, go get ‘er system), which allows for better sleep and more detoxification, which in turn creates a healthier, happier you. Sleep (and good sleep at that), is key to feeling energized and vibrant, with an amazing sense of mental clarity. Try to find a way to set the stage for yourself at home this week, even if all you can manage is one or two nights. If you have a family, maybe there are a few things you can do together, or decide on together, that everyone can enjoy. An essential oil to burn (lavender or chamomile are best for sleep), soft music to play while you chat about the day and make dinner, an hour where everyone reads independently — whatever it may be.  You will likely find that you not only feel better and sleep better, but that you’ll wake up in the morning with a little extra zip in your step. It’s not about how much you sleep, but HOW you sleep that will actually make the difference, so set the stage for sleep, and feel the difference.


AMBER ELIZABETHScreen Shot 2017-04-20 at 5.20.20 PM




Amber is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist who graduated from the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition. Since graduating, Amber has sought extensive training in homeopathics, botanicals, supplementation and a wide variety of holistic modalities. Using science-based nutrition and symptomatology, she is able to help clients to better understand their individual needs, identify their goals and in turn, live their most balanced, vibrant lives. Her foundation is to educate clients and to help them create and maintain long-term, healthy lifestyle choices. Amber has propelled her interest in the concept of living well into a passion for education, cooking, and exploring the holistic side of life.

Holistic or holism is defined as: the theory that parts of a whole are in intimate connection, such that they cannot exist independently of the whole or cannot be understood without reference to the whole, which is thus regarded as greater than the sum of its parts. Holism is often applied to mental states, language, and ecology.Screen Shot 2016-10-13 at 5.09.56 PM

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