Sleep and Stress: How to Sleep Better When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed

Sleep is essential for our overall well-being. It helps us to recharge, stay focused, and maintain a healthy mind and body. However, when we’re feeling overwhelmed, getting a good night’s sleep can be a challenge. Stress can cause our minds to race, making it difficult to relax and fall asleep. Lack of sleep can then exacerbate feelings of stress and anxiety, creating a vicious cycle. If you’re struggling to get the rest you need, there are several strategies you can try to help you sleep better when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

Establish a Relaxing Bedtime Routine

Establishing a relaxing bedtime routine can signal to your body that it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep. Take some time before bed to unwind and relax. This can include reading a book, taking a warm bath, or practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation. Avoid screens for at least an hour before bedtime, as the blue light emitted can interfere with your body’s natural sleep cycle. Instead, try listening to calming music or an audiobook to help you drift off to sleep.

Create a Sleep-Conducive Environment

Your sleep environment can have a significant impact on the quality of your sleep. Make sure your bedroom is cool, dark, and quiet. Use blackout curtains to block out light, and earplugs or a white noise machine to block out noise. Invest in comfortable bedding and a supportive mattress to ensure you’re comfortable throughout the night. If you have trouble falling asleep, try a weighted blanket or a pillow spray that contains essential oils like lavender, which can help promote relaxation.

Practice Good Sleep Hygiene

Good sleep hygiene can help you establish healthy sleep habits. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends. This helps regulate your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine, especially in the hours leading up to bedtime. These substances can interfere with your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Make sure your bedroom is only used for sleep and sex, as this can help your brain associate the space with relaxation and sleep.

Try Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques like progressive muscle relaxation, visualization, and yoga can help you relax and fall asleep more easily. Progressive muscle relaxation involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups to help release tension in the body. Visualization involves imagining a peaceful scene or place to help calm the mind. Yoga can help stretch and relax the body, promoting better sleep. You can also try aromatherapy with essential oils like chamomile, bergamot, or frankincense, which can help you relax and fall asleep more easily.

Consider Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of talk therapy that can help you identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors that can contribute to feelings of stress and anxiety. CBT for insomnia focuses on changing the thoughts and behaviors that can interfere with sleep, helping you develop healthier sleep habits. A trained therapist can help guide you through this process and provide you with tools to manage stress and anxiety.

Consult with a Healthcare Professional

If you’re struggling with sleep and stress, it’s important to talk to a healthcare professional. They can help you rule out any underlying medical conditions that may be contributing to your sleep problems and provide guidance on the best course of treatment. In some cases, medication or therapy may be recommended to help you manage your stress and sleep better. It’s important to follow your doctor’s advice and take any medication as prescribed.


Feeling overwhelmed can make it challenging to get a good night’s sleep. However, there are several strategies you can try to help you sleep better when you’re feeling stressed. Following the tips laid out in this article can help you significantly improve the quality of your sleep, and manage your stress and anxiety. Remember that getting enough rest is essential for your physical and mental health, so prioritize your sleep and take the time to establish healthy sleep habits.

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Dr. Pedram Shojai

NY Times Best Selling author and film maker. Taoist Abbot and Qigong master. Husband and dad. I’m here to help you find your way and be healthy and happy. I don’t want to be your guru…just someone who’ll help point the way. If you’re looking for a real person who’s done the work, I’m your guy. I can light the path and walk along it with you but can’t walk for you.