5 Ways For a Stress-Free Sleep

By Kayla White, M.A. Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Resident in Counseling

Photo by Matthew T Rader on Unsplash

We’ve all been there. You turn to look at the clock and it’s 2:00 am, then 3:00am. You have to get up in a few hours but, you are still wide awake with what feels like a million thoughts running through your head. If this sounds all too familiar, you are not alone. Here are some solutions to help you get a better night’s sleep. 


Not only does the blue light that a phone (or tablet) emits keep you awake but scrolling through your social media at night can stress you out even more. There is a strong correlation between being on social media at night and poor sleep. It has also been linked to depression and stress, which are known contributors to insomnia. Schedule a time to close out the social media apps and try not to let that be the first thing you check in the morning! 

#2 – Make a bedtime routine!

Our body loves routine. Set aside 30 minutes to signal to your body “hey! It is almost time to sleep!” and stick with it. Put on a face mask, read 20 pages of a book, take a warm bath, or spend some time thinking about your day. Make sure that your bedtime routine is something that you can do on a nightly basis, in or outside of your home (hotel, significant others home, etc.) Keep it simply and realistic! 

#3 – Tense and relax!

Also known as progressive muscle relaxation. If you don’t know what this is, a simple Google or YouTube search will be helpful. But it is simple! Start with your toes, tense your toes for several seconds and then relax them. Work your way up your body tensing and relaxing your muscles. This will help you feel more relaxed. 

#4 4-7-8 Method

This is a breathing technique that has been proven to help you fall asleep in under a minute!! First, place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth just behind your upper front teeth and keep it there throughout. Next, exhale through your mouth making a “whoosh” sound. Then, close your mouth and inhale through your nose for four counts. Now, exhale through your mouth making the same “whoosh” sound for eight counts. Repeat this cycle three more times for a total of four breaths. This technique relaxes your body by increasing oxygen in the bloodstream and slowing down your heart rate. 

#5 Last resort!

For those nights when you are feeling anxious and distressed, the only way that you will be able to calm down is to reset your nervous system. By immersing your face in cold water, it triggers the Mammalian Dive Reflex. This reflex lowers your heart rate and blood pressure and you’ll be ready to drift off to sleep in a matter of minutes. 


About Kayla White:

Kayla is a graduate from the University of Virginia, with a B.S. degree in Psychology, and a recent graduate from Marymount University with a M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.

Many individuals, children and adults, struggle with depression, anxiety, adjusting to change, or simply the desire to understand themselves more thoroughly. Whether to improve mood and functioning, or glean insight into personality, therapy can be reparative, strengthening, and play a role in maximizing enjoyment of life! Kayla’s expertise is working with children/adolescents, teens, young adults, and adults managing issues of: loneliness, depression, anxiety, behavioral issues, eating disorders, trauma, loss & grief, relationship issues, substance use issues and family conflict. To learn more about Kayla, visit HERE.

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