How stress affects sleep
Did you know life expectancy in the US declined in the last three years? One of the reasons for this is suicide, which is often caused by stress, anxiety, depression, and mental health and wellness.
Sleep and Mental Health
In June of 2020, the CDC reported that 40% of Americans said they are struggling with mental health. This number is not to take lightly, and while some conditions require professional help, others can be soothed through relaxation practices and better sleep.
“According to the National Sleep Foundation, lack of sleep or poor sleep is connected to mental health disorders including anxiety and depression,” stated this recent article.
Brain waves and sleep
When we sleep, our brain processes information. So when we’re sleeping poorly, we’re retaining less positive emotions. If you pay attention to your sleep score using a FitBit. You’ll notice REM and Deep sleep account for 25% of your score. These two sleep stages help you unlock the restorative power of sleep.
Stress and lack of sleep also imbalance our nervous systems, leading to a never-ending cycle of less sleep and more stress. Less sleep leads to more stress, which in turn leads to less sleep. And it never ends. So how can you eradicate stress and start sleeping better?
In the last year, I focused on keeping my stress levels low and improving my sleep score. But by the fall, as the pandemic dragged on, the country grew more divided by the day over lockdown and political chaos, and with the stress of moving and my daughter starting college, things got pretty bad.
My stress levels were extreme, and my sleep quality spiraled out of control.
So I decided to use all the tools I had to my advantage to make sure I was getting enough sleep, reduce stress during the day, and gain better focus. Most of them are based on science and neuroscience specifically. By understanding our brains, their creators have merged science and technology to help us daily. Here are six of my favorite apps and practices that have gotten me through 2020 and will continue to help me in 2021.
Sleep Tools to Reduce Stress and Snooze
Apollo is a wearable device, sort of like a watch, but not really. You can wear it on your wrist or ankle, select one of the many programs on your app and enjoy the subtle vibrations that will work in connection with your brain. The device ensures you’re rested, focused, and relaxed through innovative vibration-based technology.
As per their website, “Apollo retrains your nervous system to manage stress more effectively on your own.” It “delivers a novel touch therapy, felt as gentle waves of vibration, that stimulates your “rest and digest” parasympathetic nervous response and restores balance to the body.” Again, neuroscience saves the day!
I discovered the Apollo wearable through my Baby Bathwater group. I wear it on my ankle and put the wake-up and energy vibrations on as I’m having coffee in the morning. It takes me from that sleep zone to feeling alive, adding another layer of energy on top of the coffee.
I also use Apollo in meditation and mindfulness mode when I’m stressed out and trying to relax with a five-minute break during the day. I also use that mode right before or after yoga. I love their rebuild and recovery mode after an intense yoga session. I’ll also use their clear and focus track in addition to Brain.FM if I really need to get things done. Lastly, I select the sleep and renew track before going to sleep, and the slight vibrations work so well with my brain!
A gratitude journal is a simple concept: writing down everything you are grateful for or anything positive that has happened to you. Scientific studies have found that individual differences in gratitude are related to sleep. It’s just a matter of taking a few minutes out of your day before going to bed and reflecting on the good things that have happened to you. It’s very little effort but goes a long way!
Everybody talks about gratitude journals, and it’s always seemed like such an obvious solution, but I had never gotten around to keeping one. However, I recently did a 10 Day Mindset Challenge, and one of the assignments I assigned myself was the gratitude journal. Whenever I write positive thoughts and things I am grateful for before going to bed, my FitBit sleep score is higher the next day; the mindset effect is immediate.
CBD From Flow to Focus to Bath to Sleep
Starting your day in a state of focus and flow can depend on how well you slept the night before. Getting up on the wrong side of a stressful night’s sleep can make a difference in peak performance. When you wake up at 3 am, and your mind is racing with thoughts of your next day.
In a recent interview with CBS News, flow expert Steven Kotler said, “what the science shows, if you can, you should start your day or your work period with 90-minute blocks of concentration, if you want to maximize flow. He says it should range between 90 to 120 minutes chunks. “In the same way there’s a REM cycle that’s 90 minutes long, there’s a focused waking cycle that’s 90 minutes long,” he says.
The right CBD elixir can help you maximize your flow in a few different ways, including focus and sleep. Try adding a few drops of Ojai Energetics 100% organic, full-spectrum, water-soluble CBD elixir to your coffee in the morning or bath at the end of the day, or both!
I only started understanding the benefits of CBD a few years ago. I can say first-hand, CBD is part of my daily health and wellness routine. I notice a difference in my mood, focus, sleep, and anxiety levels.
Adding Ojai Energetics CBD to my bath is an extra self-care step and now part of my bedtime routine.
Warm baths and sleep
Healthline reported, to fall asleep faster, researchers suggest taking a hot bath. A study found that taking a hot bath about 90 minutes before bed could help people fall asleep more quickly. The hot water helps change your body’s core temperature so that you go to bed at a lower temperature.
The founders at Brain.FM believes the music you listen to should support your goals. They frequently create new music to help people be more productive, relaxed or get better sleep. The functional music is a combination of vibrations that are rooted in neurology. They focus on the science of sleep, productivity, and all things brain-related to make sure you meet your goals.
I have had the Brain.FM app on my phone for three years now. When I need to get things done in a short amount of time and block out all distractions, I simply put my headphones on and select the focus track. The music has combinations of vibrations that work perfectly with your brain. Whenever I listen to it, I get in another state and can write and focus really well. They also have music for sleep, but these do not work for me for some reason.
Hypnotherapy? Try Meditation App Primed Mind
PrimedMind is yet another meditation app. So why is it on this list? Because it uses hypnotherapy techniques made to break down your subconscious barriers to relaxation and productivity. A mix of coaching, hypnotherapy, and meditation, the app has a sleeping track that will help you fall asleep fast.
PrimedMind Founder, Leading Mindset Coach, and Hypnotherapist Elliot Roe guide you into a deep sleep using deep sleep hypnosis, allowing you to get a great night’s sleep and awake feeling relaxed, recharged, and ready for the day ahead. With this guided sleep hypnosis, Elliot shows you how to fall asleep quickly by releasing the tensions and worries of the day, so you can wake up feeling great.
I added the PrimedMind app on my phone only a few weeks ago due to the 10 Day Mindset Challenge. It was my first experience with hypnotherapy, and I highly recommend checking it out. I listen to the fall asleep fast track, and it helps. I haven’t tried the other tracks yet, but I’ve heard great things.
Environmental Music and Endel
Endel is an app offering personalized sound environments to help you focus, relax, and sleep. The sounds adapt to factors like time of day, weather, heart rate, and location. You can use it to prime your brain for the day in the morning, recharge in the evening, or get ready for bed at night. It has soothing music that will adapt to your energy levels and your environment, ensuring a unique experience every time you use it. The app understands how external factors affect your brain and uses neuroscience to make you relax.
I think I might be addicted to apps! I use Endel’s soothing music any time of the day because I just love how the soothing music changes depending on the day. It takes me to the mood I need to be in at that time. I use self-care, chill, and deep work settings, depending on what I’m trying to achieve.
We’re all going through a lot right now. Seasonal depression, prolonged lockdowns, and the never-ending news cycle make it hard to feel rested and relaxed. All we can do is try and experiment with tools that were made for that very purpose. Neuroscience is an expanding field, and when used in conjunction with technology, it allows for innovative tools that make us feel better. Try these tools and ideas, and let me know how they impact your sleep score and stress levels!
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