Christmas might be the most wonderful time of the year but for many it is also the most stressful. Organising Christmas parties, picking the perfect gift and of course cooking the Christmas dinner! It's a shame that trying to please everyone this time of year can sometimes get the better of us!
If you can't relax after a stressful day, you probably know that stress can affect sleep. Adding insult to injury, if you don't sleep well at night you are likely to be more receptive to feeling stressed the next day.
Below are three signs from our sleep expert, Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, that stress might be getting the better of you:
Instead, you keep going over and over your day's worries and frustrations, contemplating them from various angles. It's almost like they're playing on a continuous loop that you can't shut off, which interferes with your ability to drift off.
If you are experiencing stress-related aches and pains such as headaches, it can be difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep. To complicate matters, sleeping poorly can promote headaches the next day and make you more sensitive to pain.
An increased heart rate or variable heart rate is a common symptom of stress. A faster heart rate due to stress promotes the production of cortisol (a stress hormone) which prevents your body properly shutting down on a night.
If you feel like you have any of the above signs of stress, take a step back and evaluate what is causing the tension. It may be just a small amendment to your routine each day that could help you relax.
Here are Dr Nerina's most effective tips to reduce stress and sleep better:
A protein-rich breakfast eaten within 30 minutes of rising will help you produce more melatonin at night so that you fall asleep more easily. Eating breakfast each morning sets you up for the challenges of your day and instantly make you feel calmer - don't wait until you're at your desk!
Stay away from technology 60 to 90 minutes before you get into bed and your descent into deep sleep will be quicker and more effortless. Checking your emails before bed - or even worse during the night - will heighten stress, wake up your brain and make it impossible to drift off.
This will just make the anxiety worse as you begin to count how many hours you have left before you need to get up. If you wake in the night, by all means go to the loo or have a drink of water, but resist the temptation to watch the clock.