Is it just me, or is 24 hours just not enough time for one day?

Between work, family time and social obligations, it gets tough to juggle all of our commitments. Sleep often falls by the wayside, the first to go during busy times.

But even when you don’t have enough time to get a full night of rest, you can still maximize what you we do have to ensure that you’re able to fall asleep quickly and stay that way all night, because there’s nothing worse than when you really need every minute of shuteye you can get, but your brain just won’t power down.

Many of us are stressed, but it’s important to keep those levels in check so that they don’t get a hold on your quality of life and your work output. Adapting to the pressure enables you to calm down and relax when you need to, especially at bedtime.

Sleep is crucial to your long term well-being, but if you don’t think those all-nighters are affecting you, think again: sleep impacts your productivity, mood, relationship quality and energy levels, and when you don’t get enough of it, you are prone to workplace accidents and other scary things like drowsy driving crashes. Yikes!

Unchecked stress causes hyperarousal, upsetting the balance between sleep and wakefulness. Even worse, you can get caught in a cycle of stress as you worry about lack of sleep, wake up tired for the next day and do the same thing again as the cycle continues — or worse, you might develop insomnia. If this sounds like you, eliminating the stress from your life should in turn alleviate the insomnia.

So what can you? It’s all about cultivating the good habits that work for you. Here are some great places to start:

Write it down:

When you’re home in the evening, spend a few minutes — no more than a half hour — journalling any issues you faced during the day, being sure to include any possible solutions to them. While this might not solve the problem alone, you can still get it all out, close the book and put it away. Not only are you physically setting your worries off to the side, you’re also getting them out of your system instead of holding them in until bed.

 

Speak to someone about how you’re feeling:

When you’re overwhelmed, consider verbalizing your worries. Communicate how you’re feeling and seek advice from your support system, whether it be a therapist, colleague or family member. Simply sharing what’s bothering you with a confidant who understands and validates you can majorly alleviate that weight on your shoulders.

 

Create a sleep routine:

Consistency is key here! Fight that stress by waking up and drifting off at the same time each day and night, so that your body naturally adjusts to a schedule. Avoid stimulants like tea, coffee and sugar for a few hours before bed, since they can delay your sleep. Here’s a little trick if you find yourself lying in bed, struggling to snooze: when you run out of sheep to count, get up and do something else relaxing for half an hour until you get sleepy again. Then, get back under the covers and sleep should come more easily.

 

Allow wind down time:

When you’re going a mile a minute all day, it’s only natural that your brain is going to want to keep firing. Allocate some wind down time for yourself: at least two hours before bed each night should do it. Put away those sleep-killing electronic devices in favor of reading a book, listening to soft music, dimming the lights and drawing a warm bath, or engaging in mindfulness activities such as meditation or reflection. This lets the activating processes in the brain slow down, allowing the alerting mechanisms to decrease their activity and hand the wheel over to your sleep systems.

Sleeping should be the easiest thing in the world — just make sure to do your part to let your brain know what to do.