Hello, and welcome to my corner of the metaverse. I’m happy you’ve taken time out of your busy day to come here and unwind. Together we will embark on an adventure where I will discuss how small lifestyle changes can vastly improve your well-being.
Stress is a natural response to challenging situations. However, chronic stress impacts our well-being and has been linked to various health problems, including heart disease, anxiety, and depression. Fortunately, there are many ways to reduce stress levels, including reading and sleeping.
Reading is a popular pastime; many people already have it as part of their nighttime routine; let me explain later why you should join them. While many people read for pleasure or knowledge, a benefit you may have overlooked is its anti-stress properties.
Reading and well-being
As you are reading this, it is safe to assume you value unwinding, and I wasn’t bluffing about my offer to help you with that. A University of Sussex study showed that reading for six minutes can decrease your stress by 68 %. That means if you read this blog at a rate of 230 words per minute, you could be 68% less stressed by the time you finish it.
One of the primary ways that reading can decrease stress is by reducing anxiety. When you’re anxious or stressed, your mind often races with negative thoughts and worries. By immersing yourself in a good book, you can take your mind off these thoughts and focus on something else.
Reading pulls you out of your world and places you into the authors. It engages your creativity engine as you bring the reading material to life. Even non-fiction books are filled with vivid metaphors to help you understand abstract concepts. When you read, you generate new ideas and connect previous knowledge in a new way.
Regular reading is a constructive habit, especially when bundling with other wind-down practices such as journaling. Reading can improve our cognitive function and empathy while reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression. Imagine how good your sleep would be if you read and journaled a little before going to bed every night.How to fall asleep
Sleep is essential for mental health, but falling asleep when stressed out is difficult. Fortunately, reading can help. By reading before bed, you will wind down and relax, allowing you to fall asleep more quickly and stay asleep. The sleep induction of reading is evident when you struggle to stay awake while reading a good book in your hyggekrog.
Do you have a healthy wind-down routine? Suppose your average evening is full of caffeine and blue light-emitting stimulants. In that case, it’s time to consider developing a better routine. Days are cyclical; the last things to do before bed sets up how well you will sleep, which sets up your following day.
Reading is an effective way to reduce stress levels and improve overall well-being. Whether it’s a novel, a self-help book, or a magazine, taking the time to read can give us a much-needed break from our hectic lives. So, the next time you’re stressed out and unable to sleep, grab a book and unwind. Your mind and body will thank you for it; let me explain why.
Why good sleep matters
Those hours you lay in bed dreaming are more important than you may realize. Most of us never ask ourselves why we sleep; we accept it as part of life. Luckily, Mathew Walker is not like most of us. His research into Why We Sleep has highlighted the importance of sleeping adequately.
Your body needs seven to nine hours of sleep a night to process all the information and repair damages caused throughout the day. All mammals – and most other animals – sleep in one way or another. It is one of the oldest evolutionary characteristics shared by complex organisms.
Whether you got enough sleep or not directly impacts your day, and contrary to popular belief, you can’t catch it up later. If your brain has not processed that day’s memories that night, they will not be processed on another; whatever you were trying to learn or remember that day will be gone.
This is particularly important for anyone studying. Many students will stay up late, cramming the night before an exam to give themselves an edge. The sad reality is that they would perform better on their test if they had reviewed their material once and slept the whole night.
Another thing sleep influences is your immune system; it has been shown to impact the effectiveness of vaccines. The vaccine’s effectiveness is related to the amount of sleep you get the following few nights. Adequate sleep will optimize its effectiveness, while inadequate sleep could put you at risk, especially if you are getting a travel vaccination in preparation for a trip.How to sleep better
You can do many things to improve your sleep quality, but after-dinner espressos, nightcaps and blue light are none of them. All of these things interfere with your ability to sleep. Your brain has vital work to do while you sleep, so put down the espresso martini and pick up that book we discussed in Let’s talk about books.
Caffeine has defined our society for the past couple of centuries. Michael Pollan elaborated on how Caffeine has shaped culture in his book by that name. Many of us have made a caffeinated beverage an essential part of our morning routines, which is fine. However, it is best to keep these beverages in the morning as it can take up to ten hours for our bodies to completely eliminate the caffeine.
Alcohol is another common inhibitor of good sleep. Savouring a glass of wine with dinner has been shown to have benefits, but try to finish it at least four hours before going to bed. Otherwise, it could prevent you from entering REM sleep.
Then there’s light, a major influencer that we rarely think about. The type of light and time of exposure dictates your circadian rhythm. This can be used to your advantage by exposing yourself to blue light in the morning and limiting exposure to it in the evening.
New technologies have allowed us to accomplish unimaginable things, like relaxing with a book in bed. Unfortunately, the benefits of these opportunities can be diminished if your bedside lamp is too “cold” – emitting blue light. It is best to have “warm” lightning where you spend your final hours before bed to keep your circadian rhythm on track and help you fall asleep quickly.Routine is the source of great sleep
A nighttime routine tells your body it is time for bed and helps you to wind down. As mentioned above, reading and journaling both help you destress. Additional anti-stress activities include: showering, meditating, going for a light walk, etc. Anything done offline and slowly will help you destress and prepare for bed.
Once you have designed your routine, it is most effective when you are consistent. As a cue, you can set your phone to automatically go to night mode a couple of hours before bedtime or set a gentle alarm to bring your attention to the time. These gentle reminders will tell you: it’s time to start relaxing.
There will always be things preventing you from sticking to your routine but having these reminders will make a whole night of sleep the norm rather than the exception. Consistency is crucial, even on weekends. One of the worst things you can do for your rest is to alter your sleep schedule on weekends.
By staying up and inherently waking up later, you put yourself through jet lag every weekend. This makes your Monday mornings so more challenging than they need to be. Stick to a regular sleep schedule, and you will wake up feeling fresh every day – even on Monday.
Use the end of the day for doing things that let you flow into a creative state to transition into dreaming softly. These habits can be hard to adapt, but I can help. Subscribe to my newsletter below and start receiving these blogs regularly. By subscribing, you will receive a free one-hour coaching session with me to discuss how you can improve your longevity habits.
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