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How to Stop Stress Keeping You Awake at Night

Another sleepless night? It's time for positive action. Studies show a lack of sleep makes people ill and unhappy. You owe it to yourself to improve your well-being and solve the problem. If you've considered regular causes of insomnia--adverse reactions to medication, pain, discomfort, and mental or physical stimulation--the cause of endless nights spent tossing and turning is probably stress.


Why stress stops you sleeping
You aren't meant to sleep when you experience stress. Anxiety puts you in fight-or-flight mode; a state of emergency, and your system keeps you alert and ready to battle for your life. Your brain doesn't know you're lying in bed worrying about the argument you had with your spouse or the size of your electricity bill. As far as it's concerned, you need blood flow to your muscles, in case you want to punch someone or run away, and razor-sharp focus.


How to reduce stress 
The way to leave fight-or-flight mode is to stop worrying. Easier said than done you might think. Here are two effective ways to reduce mental chatter that work.


Change your inner voice
If you can't get your mind off a stressful topic, change the way you think. When stress-laden thoughts stream, slow them down in your head. Make self-talk softer by imagining you turn down its volume too.

Take deep breaths and make your inner voice even slower. Play with the volume dial until self-talk is so light you have to strain to hear it over the sound of your breath. The chances are you'll be so relaxed you'll fall asleep.


Instruct your brain to be calm
Worries flood your mind when your brain wants you to recognize and deal with problems. Once your psyche understands you've got the message, and are ready to handle the situation, it will stop inundating you with concerns.

Keep a notepad beside your bed and jot down worries that disturb you in the night. Tell yourself you know what the problem is and will deal with it in the morning. Research reveals getting troubles onto paper relieves stress, so if noting them in list form doesn't work, write in a journal adding more detail. 

Next, write your psyche a calming letter in response to your concerns. Let the soothing advice you offer be similar to the guidance you would give a beloved friend who needs support.

The practices described will reduce stress that keeps you awake and diminish the effects of fight-or-flight. Once your body and mind recognize no emergency exists, you will be able to sleep.


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