As working professionals, we work hard and give to others all day. When we are advised togeteight hours of sleep, but don't, it can make us feel guilty. We wish we knew how toshutoff our devices in the evening, how to keep ourselves from trading an hour ofproductivityfor sleep, or how to turn our heads off when we wake up at 2 a.m. anticipating tomorrow’s 'to do' list.

We have the will, but not the way… but we do have tools that can help us handle the stresses of our day and have more control over sleeping throughout night

You only experience the kind of stress that keeps you wound up at night when you face situations that feel out of your control. The more control you have, the less stressed you feel. We can’t really “manage stress.” What we can do is “manage ourselves.” So strive to control what you CAN in any situation.

And, what you do in the few minutes before bed aren’t the only things you can do to help you get a rejuvenating night of sleep. Indeed, there are things you can do throughout your whole day that will set you up to relax at bedtime and sleep soundly.

Here are 7 strategies from my book Success Under Stress: Powerful Tools for Staying Calm, Confident, and Productive When the Pressure's On to ‘manage yourself’ throughout the day and then sleep well at night.

1. Take Breaks

An optimal way of going through your day is to have “sprints” (intense focused concentration or mental/physical exertion using the “On” button part of your nervous system) followed by brief periods of “recovery” (relaxing and replenishing your energy using the “Off button” part of your nervous system. Even 3 minutes of deep breathing, stretching, music, etc). When you exert energy and then follow it with a brief period of rejuvenation, these intermittent times of relaxation train your body to balance your On and Off button.

I’m sure you “know” you should take care of yourself and you are probably saying to yourself: “Who has the time? It’s indulgent to take 3 minutes for myself, in that time I could be making doctor’s appointments for my children, sending my boss an update, or cleaning!” (Women especially are 35% less likely to take breaks and are more likely to have a poor night’s sleep.)

Research shows that you will get more energy and feel more calm from this approach—yet you’ll be even more productive because you will be intentional with how you allocate your energy.

2. Stay Rational not Reactive

If you try and stay focused on facts in interpersonal situations(and not on how you feel personally)it will help you keep calm and not react, otherwise you may regret things you either said or didn’t say. With this in mind, you won’t have to rehash the scenario in the middle of the night!

3. Minimize Interruptions

The average business professional faces 7 interruptions (and up to 35 incoming emails) per hour. You can be in charge of how you respond to these incoming distractions. If you respond only to interruptions that are current priorities, and tell those you work and live with the best times to engage your attention, you will cut out some of the distractions that derail your day. You can end the day feeling satisfied with your accomplishments – and not feel guilty or overwhelmed before bedtime.

4. Use natural aides to press the Off button.

You can create a state of short-term relaxation with Chamomile tea or breathing in essential oils with relaxing aromas such as lavender, vanilla, cinnamon. Also, most of us who are stressed out or live in urban environments are unknowingly deprived of them in real magnesium, potentially causing insomnia and anxiety. So fill your tank with a magnesium supplement before bedtime. It relaxes your muscles and helps you drift off to sleep easily.

5. Eat bedtime snacks that promotesleep

Some nighttime noshes help you sleep and decrease mid-sleep waking. Try cherry juice, kiwis,orwalnuts—they keep the amino acid tryptophan working longer within your body and are natural sources of sleep promoting hormones. Combine carbohydrates and either calcium or a protein that contains tryptophan (these combos boost serotonin, a naturally occurring brain chemical that helps you feel good and calm). Try eating a banana with a teaspoon of peanut butter, or a half piece of toast and some slices of turkey.

6. Pre-Sleep Wind Down Ritual

Start your sleep time wind down about an hour before you want to be asleep. Start by finishing up whatever is stimulating you. Do what you must to empty your head to let go of thoughts you might hang on to: Write down any ‘to do’ items for tomorrow to get them out of your head. Write down your worries(and the solutions you are committed to carrying out in the morning).

Once in bed, have a pre-sleep ritual to counter the buildup of stress hormones throughout the day.You might want to consider a brief reflection on what you are grateful for. Doing this will change your energy as it takes you out of your mental exertion and puts you into your heart energy. It will make you think of beautiful images as you fade off into the sleep sunset…

7. Do left nostril breathing. (This one is the ultimate ‘magic pill’!)

When you wake up in the middle of the night, simply cover your right nostril with your thumb or index finger, and breathe normally through your left nostril only. The reason it works is that this breath activates a nerve that immediately engages the relaxing part of your nervous system. Even for those of you who are busy mothers or Type A achievers, this magic bullet technique will getyouback to sleep within three minutes! And you'll wake up feeling more rested. (Make sure to do this technique correctly, if you breathe through the wrong nostril you'll be up for hours and you might as well go to the office at 3a.m.!)

You are the center of your family and your team and your clients, they need you to take good care of yourself! You don’t have to let stress get the best of you. Instead of staring at the ceiling feeling guilty,
there are SO many things that you can control during stressful days to stay calm and sleep well through the night.

Author's Bio: 

Sharon Melnick, Ph.D. is a leading authority on business psychology and stress resilience. Her practical tools are informed by 10 years of research at Harvard Medical School and field tested by over 12,000 training participants at Fortune 500 companies and associations around the world.

Dr. Melnick is the author of the acclaimed book Success under Stress: Powerful Tools for Staying Calm, Confident, and Productive when the Pressure’s On. Download her special report on overcoming sleep-related insomnia at