“The research will tell you that it’s recommended that we get seven to eight hours of sleep in a consistent way. That’s what’s best for us.”
― Dr. Roger Sherman, The Center for Resiliency
Once you’ve completed the third class on stress management , you’re ready to begin incorporating the following techniques into your mindfulness practice. Add these techniques into the daily practice you began after the first and second sessions.
How many hours of sleep do we need each night? In the third class, Brie Williams and Dr. Roger Sherman discuss just how many hours of sleep the body requires. While some may ‘feel OK’ with less, it really is best to target seven to eight hours.
The benefits of sleep are numerous. Think of sleep as sweeping out the “brain dust” that accumulates throughout the day. A good night’s sleep can help you to be more alert, reduce inflammation, reduce your risk of depression, improve your heart health, and reduce your stress level.
Tips for a great night’s sleep:
No naps after 3pm – late afternoon naps can make it difficult to fall asleep at night.
No alcohol or caffeine in the evening – stimulants will keep you awake and interrupt your sleep.
Disconnect from screens – stress interferes with sleep. Avoid stress-activating thoughts two to three hours before you head to bed.
Relax for an hour or so – relaxing activities will enhance your ability to fall and stay asleep.
Keep the bedroom for sleeping – complete any planning two to three hours before bed time. It’s a good idea to keep your brain relaxed and free from stress responses once you enter the bedroom.
Write down five things that went well during the day – visualize pleasant emotions as you fall sleep by thinking about what you are grateful for. How can you increase your awareness of positive emotions?
Practice the body scan – in this approach, we bring non-judgmental attention to different parts of the body in sequence. Begin at one end of the body (typically we start with the toes) and then move your attention to the next closest body part, slowly making your way up (or down) the body. A body scan is not intended to illicit changes; it is simply a mindfulness tool to help you notice the sensations in parts of the body at any given moment. This grounding approach shifts attention from stress and worry to a more relaxed posture. Incorporating some form of meditation or mindfulness practice before bed will help you have a full and relaxing night’s sleep.
As you work with the checklists on a daily basis, be mindful of your stress levels. Are they noticeably decreasing? Are you better able to remain calm throughout the day, or find a way back to calm when stress starts to creep in? Hopefully the answer will be yes.
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