This article is a guest contribution from The Sleep Help Institute 

Stress is normal, and it’s even normal to struggle with sleep now and then. But if you’re often finding yourself having a hard time sleeping because you’re stressed and overwhelmed, it’s a problem. And a lack of sleep is only going to make stress worse.

You feel stressed when you’re challenged. It’s a natural reaction, offering you a boost of energy, elevated heart rate, and higher blood pressure to help you push past whatever challenge you’re in. But when you’re feeling constantly stressed, that’s a problem, and it can make it hard to slow down, relax, and sleep.

Unfortunately, not etting enough sleep can make it even tougher to manage stress throughout the day. You’re not working with all of your energy, patience, or mental capacity. In short, you’re not able to manage challenges as well as you would if you were well rested.

What can you do to get some stress relief and rest at night? Read on for tips on managing stress and sleeping well.

  • Give yourself plenty of time to sleep. Nothing will keep you up easier than worrying about how much sleep you’re getting, or how little time you have left to sleep. Adults need between seven to nine hours of sleep each night, so make sure you’re giving yourself more than enough time to actually rest each night. Plan your schedule around the hours you need to sleep and leave time for falling asleep and waking up, too.

  • Practice stress relief habits. Everyone experiences stress, it’s how you manage it that makes a big difference. Use stress relief outlets such as working out, chatting with friends, yoga, and meditation. A calm place to sleep can help, including white noise and aromatherapy. You may find counseling or therapy helpful as well, especially if you’re going through a particularly stressful time.

  • Maintain good sleep hygiene. Good sleep hygiene means practicing healthy sleep habits. In addition to giving yourself time to sleep, being consistent with sleep is key. You’ll want to stick to the same sleep schedule, usually going to sleep and waking up at approximately the same hour each night and day. That way, your body learns to predict when it’s time to get to sleep and wake up and it’s easier to do so. A consistent bedtime routine can be a major help, too, as going through your regular routine can help you signal to your brain and body that sleep time is imminent. And make sure you’re not bringing stress to bed: your bed should be a screen free zone, avoiding using your laptop or mobile device where you sleep.

  • Give stressful thoughts a place to live — just not in your head. If you get in bed and find your mind starts racing as you’re trying to fall asleep, let those thoughts go. Bedtime isn’t the time to worry about them. Keep a journal next to your bed, and write down what you’re thinking about so you can address it in the morning instead of staying up all night worrying.

  • Cut back. Managing stress can only do so much. If you’re so stressed you can’t sleep, and you’re not able to manage it well, consider a lifestyle change. You may be taking on more than you can handle. Cut back on commitments, consider your priorities, and take it easier on yourself whenever possible.

Stress and sleep affect each other, and facing difficulty in one can make it harder to manage the other. Practice healthy sleep habits and stress management to feel better and get the rest you need each night