Sleep is my second favorite stress reducer after deep breathing. Sleep is the thing people will neglect the most. Most people understand that they need more sleep, they agree that they need more sleep, they pretend that they are trying to get more sleep, but they don’t get enough sleep.

Adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night, and most adults do not even come close to that as a regular amount.

There are two parts to the solution to this problem. First, you have to make a commitment to getting more sleep. You have to acknowledge the fact that it is often your choice when you do not get the proper amount.

The second part is this: You have to be ready to take it step by step and be patient with yourself as you train yourself to sleep more.

Here are 10 simple steps for you to use to achieve restful sleep and reduced stress:

1. Figure out the average time you head for bed, and move that time up by fifteen minutes. (Little steps will get you where you are going!)

2. Create bedtime routines for yourself the same way we do with children. When children are young, they learn that there is a whole nighttime routine; they pick up their toys, they have a snack, followed by a bath, then they have a story. Their brains start to understand that what follows is rest. We need to do this for ourselves. We turn off the computer or TV and go to bed thinking that we will immediately be able to turn all our thoughts off and sleep! This will not usually happen.

3. Turn off the television and computer an hour before bedtime. (Record your shows and stop with the computer!)

4. Do not eat after dinner, or have a very small snack that may help your rest. (Cereal and milk, small turkey sandwich.) Make sure that you are not drinking caffeine too late in the day. It takes an average of 6 hours to get caffeine out of your system.

5. Take a hot shower or soak in the tub..

6. Limit the alcohol and cigarettes. Both will disrupt your sleep (even after you initially fall asleep.)

7. Make sure that you have made your bed and that it looks inviting with clean sheets and fluffy pillows and bedding.

8. Soft music and a good book or magazine can be helpful to continue the calming down and sending “rest” signals to your brain. (No loud music or news magazines.)

9. Make sure everyone understands that this is a priority for you. Get earplugs if necessary if there are people who stay up later than you. (If necessary, put younger children to bed earlier—they need the sleep, too.)

10. Keep a pad of paper next to your bed so that if you have trouble turning off your thoughts, you can write them down. Worries, to do items—anything that you think of, can be written down. Once it is out of your mind and on paper, you will find it easier to achieve rest.
 
Now, sleep. Your body will thank you!

© 2010 Diana Fletcher

Author's Bio: 

Diana Fletcher is the Stress Reducing Expert Coach, Speaker and Author. Her latest book, Reduce Your Stress Month by Month Stress Reducing Strategies is available at www.reduceyourstressbook.com. Contact Diana and get more information on Diana Fletcher’s programs at www.dianafletcher.com.