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Stress Keeping You Awake? Stressed Because You Can't Sleep? Try These Six Tips and Six Lifestyle Hab
by columnist Mary Maddux has worked in the healing arts in both conventional and alternative settings. With an MS in clinical social work, she has worked as a counselor, helping people cope with the stresses of life. While working as a hospice counselor, she was introduced to various alternative healing arts. She eventually developed a healing arts practice and has taught many workshops.

She and husband Richard are producers of two renowned CDs, Sleep Easy: Guided Meditation for Deep Rest , and Pure Relaxation: Guided Meditations for Body, Mind & Spirit . Mary is the "voice" of these CDs while Richard, an accomplished composer of music for meditation with 20 years experience, created the music.

Stress keeping you awake at night? If so, you are undoubtedly feeling stressed during the day due to lack of sleep! You will certainly feel tired and lack the energy you need for your daily activities. You may start to rely on stimulants, like caffeine, to keep you going, but using these will make it even harder to sleep at night.

Depending on your "stress type," you may feel irritable, have difficulty concentrating, feel depressed, doze off at the wrong times, or simply feel lousy. You may need to nap, which most sleep experts say interferes with the ability to sleep at night. Getting through the day without adequate sleep is a challenge!

Soon you start saying "I've GOT to get some sleep!" Next thing you know you're in bed doing your best to fall asleep and losing the battle because you are so stressed out.

3/28-4/3 is Sleep Awareness Week!

Sleep Awareness Week

Having trouble sleeping, unlike this girl? You're not alone. Sleep deprivation is such a serious problem in the US that the National Sleep Foundation has declared this week (March 28th - April 3rd) "National Sleep Awareness Week"

Having trouble sleeping, unlike this girl? You're not alone. Sleep deprivation is such a serious problem in the US that the National Sleep Foundation has declared this week (March 28th - April 3rd) "National Sleep Awareness Week"]

How can you break this vicious stress/can't sleep cycle? This article will give you some insights and tips.

Some of the tips I'll provide are easy - things you can do at bedtime to help relax you into sleep. But those don't always work, and you may need to make some lifestyle changes for a more long term solution. Therefore, I'm also including lifestyle tips. You probably are aware of many of these ideas already, and can find plenty more on the web, but the challenge is to actually incorporate these ideas into your life. That takes motivation and a commitment to self-care.

So we'll start with motivation first by looking at why is it so important to get a good night's sleep (and even dangerous not to). Then, when we've been motivated by some "facts", we can look at some solutions. And finally, because it can be difficult to learn to "shift gears" at bedtime and fall asleep, I'll also tell you about my Sleep Easy and Pure Relaxation CDs which are designed to help you relax into sleep. You may want to use these, or other natural relaxation and sleep tools, to help you get adequate rest for a better quality of life.

Get Motivated ... to Sleep!

For motivation, let's look at some of the benefits of adequate sleep, as well as the dangers of sleep deprivation.

The NSF slogan "Sleep Well Tonight for a Better Tomorrow!" could well read "Sleep Well Tonight to Have Many Tomorrows"!

The benefits of good sleep to health are numerous. What's more, lack of sleep can be fatal! The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conservatively estimates that 100,000 police-reported crashes are caused by drowsy drivers each year. According to NSF's 2002 Sleep in America poll, 51% of Americans said they drove while feeling drowsy in the past year; 17% said they actually dozed off behind the wheel.

Lack of sleep has been blamed for all sorts of accidents and mistakes, but I don't want you to get a lack of sleep worrying about all this! I'd rather encourage you with a little positive motivation - the rewards of a good night's sleep.

Mother and Baby

Following the tips below may help you sleep like a baby!

Try to remember how you felt the last time you had a good night's sleep and felt well rested. Maybe it took a whole week off (of relaxing, not "power vacationing") to get rested, but hopefully you can at least remember a time when you were completely rested.

Sometimes it's not until you have a really good night's sleep or relaxing vacation that you appreciate what a huge difference adequate rest makes to your well-being. Not only do you feel better, but you are more creative and productive during the day.

If nothing else, I hope this article will help you to make a commitment to getting the sleep you need. It may require making some changes, but it will be well worth it. It can really change your life! The tips below are especially useful for stress-related insomnia.

No Matter the Reason for Your Sleep Deprivation, It CAN Be Helped!

Some sleep problems, especially those which are long term and severe, may indicate an underlying health condition or a number of specific "sleep disorders" which are treatable. Therefore, it is important to check with your health care provider if this is the case. No matter what your situation, it can be helped!

Below I am providing 6 tips for relaxing into sleep, as well as 6 lifestyle habits which can make a world of difference for stress-related sleep problems.

These tips will make a lot of sense if we look at what makes it so hard to fall asleep when we are stressed. When we go to bed, we may be anxious or worried, affected by some intense emotion, such as grief, or we may even be excited about a positive event. All of these, and a host of other responses to stress, can keep us awake.

Foot Massage

Massaging your feet before bed is very relaxing and may help you fall asleep.

The stress may come from external sources, such as unexpected events and challenging responsibilities, as well as our own ways of coping (or not coping) with stressors. For example, some of us are quite expert at pressuring ourselves to meet our own overly high expectations. Regardless of what is keeping us awake, we are basically on "stress overload".

What happens when we are "overloaded?"

Our mind and body have to work overtime to cope with all the stress. We go to bed at night with the mind and emotions still very active. The body and mind are, we could say, "unwinding" from the day, and this unwinding produces a kind of activity that keeps us alert. We have not taken off our "problem solving hat" and put on our sleep cap!

Falling asleep is like shifting gears. It involves a whole different style of functioning than the focused state of attention we have during the day. It requires relaxation, and a kind of "letting go." An active mind at bedtime is not conducive to falling asleep. We need to be able to turn off our minds and "de-focus."

With this in mind, I offer you the following solutions.

6 Tips for Relaxing at Bedtime

  1. Create a relaxing bedtime routine. Give yourself time to get ready for bed slowly. Savor the moments of winding down as you wash your face, brush your teeth, and change into your bed clothes. You can use aroma oils, soft music - be creative! If spirituality is important to you, include a prayer.

  2. Keep your bedroom cool, quiet, and dark. (Usually a cool room promotes sleep, but you will have difficulty sleeping if you feel cold, so experiment. If your feet are cold in winter, warm them up before bed!)

  3. Drink a cup of relaxing tea, like chamomile.

  4. Massage your feet, especially with warm oil, right before bed - it's very relaxing.

  5. Stretch a bit before you lie down. You can literally stretch out some of the "kinks" and tension of the day. Stretching makes some people more energetic and some more sleepy, so experiment and find out what works for you. Don't overdo it - stretch just enough to help you relax.

  6. Once you are in bed, listen to relaxing music or a relaxation or sleep CD to help you "shift gears" and relax into sleep.

6 Lifestyle Habits that Promote Restful Sleep

  1. Go to bed at about the same time each night. It may be a challenge to get into this habit, but it can make a world of difference. The body loves routine. It will develop a habit of falling asleep at a certain time.

  2. Make your bedroom a sanctuary. Decorate it with soothing colors, comforting and restful images and your favorite comfort items. Make sure your bed is comfortable so that you are able to truly let to and relax in it. Let it be a place where you feel pampered!

  3. Keep the bedroom for relaxing activities and sleep. Don't bring your work and activities which require focused attention into the bedroom. If you read in bed, keep it light and relaxing.

  4. Start to unwind early in the evening, long before you go to bed. Take a relaxation break at the end of the day. As much as possible, fill your evening with relaxing activities. If you have to perform tasks at night, slow down and take it easy. You really don't have to get it all done. It's much more important to take care of yourself than to check one more thing off your to-do list!

  5. Give up habits of perfectionism and worry. The "to do" list is never done and the "what ifs" rarely happen. Take time to celebrate what you have accomplished at the end of the day, rather than dwelling on what is left to do. As for worry, I don't need to tell you it doesn't accomplish anything. There are lots of ways to counteract the "worry habit" which I won't go into here - but reading the articles on this website which provide solutions (unlike the mass media) to eliminate the worrying is one of them.

  6. Learn to relax and make relaxation a part of your daily routine. This may be the one most important thing that you can do, and there are many different kinds of programs and tools to help you to do it.

Relaxation is one of the most important antidotes to stress and insomnia, but "just relax" is easier said than done. That's why I've created my Sleep Easy and Pure Relaxation CDs. They are especially helpful for letting go of stress, calming the mind, soothing the emotions and relaxing into sleep.

One woman commented about Sleep Easy - "it's like you've read my mind and know just what to tell me to relax". From my work with many people, including myself, I've created some simple, voice-guided meditations that have proven highly effective for many people.

I give equal credit, though, to my husband for the incredibly relaxing music on the CDs. We encourage you to use these or other supports to help you create a more rested mind and body, and wish you a better, safer and more enjoyable life!

Relaxation Expert Mary Maddux's Renowned Sleep CD!

With guided sleep meditations by a leading meditation expert, Mary Maddux, and music by a renowned meditation music composer with 20 years experience, this CD will help you find deep rest and sleep ... at an incredible price.

  • Fall Asleep Faster
  • Wake Up Less Throughout the Night
  • Fall Back to Sleep Faster When Awakened
  • Feel MORE Rested the Next Morning
  • Just $15.49
  • FREE Shipping Anywhere in the World through

"The CD made me feel very relaxed. I drifted off sooner than usual and didn't wake up as often. My mother is in mid-stage Alzheimer's disease. She fell asleep with the CD. She doesn't accept many interventions, but accepted your CD!"
     -- Lisa Walker, Occupational Therapist, CA

"I fell asleep more easily with the CD -- not sleeping with all this stuff on my mind and all the unfinished business of the day. The music is relaxing, calming, nurturing."
     -- Kitty Alder, Energy Consultant, NE

"Mary's voice and gentleness are so intensely soothing and calming. The music at the end was wonderful and I have been using it for my morning yoga session regularly."
     -- Eric Kipp, Realtor, KS

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