STRESS AND BETTER SLEEP
Try To Get 7.5 to 8 Hours Of Sleep A Night To Feel Rested and Reduce Cortisol Levels
Cortisol is the stress hormone**.
Strategies that may help you sleep:
- Reduce your caffeine intake. Caffeinated beverages can keep you up at night and increase the urge to urinate throughout the night. If you can’t cut caffeine out entirely, Hatipoglu* recommends to at least eliminate your intake of caffeine in the afternoon and evening.
- Curb the use of electronics in the bedroom. Television is a no-no in the bedroom, as it will keep you up when you need to be focusing on resting. Watch TV in another room, and turn it off at least an hour before you want to nod off. Try reading a book or listening to relaxing music instead.
- Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and calm. Removing all light from the room, using light-blocking curtains, and outfitting your bed with appropriate bedding helps to create an atmosphere that is conducive to sleep.
- Create a regular bedtime schedule. Hatipoglu says you need to train your body to get a good night’s sleep. One of the most important ways you can do this is to create a scheduled bedtime and stick to it as closely as possible each night. You can incorporate things into this routine that get your body ready for bed, such as having a few sips of relaxing chamomile tea, meditating, or doing deep breathing exercises before you close your eyes.
“You need to identify the sources of your stress so you can start to deal with them in positive ways,” says Garcia-Banigan♦. Here are some suggestions:
- Exercise more. Increasing the amount of exercise you get is a great way to burn off stress. Exercise can also help you reach or maintain a healthy weight and control your blood sugar. “If you can, you might want to bump up your exercise to about 60 minutes a day,” Garcia-Banigan advises.
- Eat well. Maintaining good nutrition when you’re stressed helps control blood sugar levels. “You need to make sure to get the right nutrition so you have the energy to deal with stress,” Garcia-Banigan says.
- Improve your coping style. Try replacing negative thoughts with positive thoughts, reducing the stress triggers you can, and being good to yourself. “Learn to manage your time well and make yourself a priority,” Garcia-Banigan says.
- Learn stress reduction techniques. Breathing exercises, meditation, and progressive relaxation are all techniques that people have found to be helpful for stress management. Practice stress-relieving activities that work for you.
- Get support. Talk to friends and loved ones about your feelings. Ask your caregivers about stress management assistance, and consider joining a support group where you can share feelings, ideas, and advice. Journaling helps.
* Betul Hatipoglu, MD, is a physician in the Cleveland Clinic’s Department of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism.
♦ Dinamarie C. Garcia-Banigan, MD, MPH, an endocrinologist and diabetes specialist at the Lahey Clinic in Burlington, MA
** “Stress hormones include cortisol, adrenalin, and growth hormone,” Dr. Arafah says. They all have the ability to increase blood sugar levels.”
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