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How to get proper rest if you’re an HSP

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Do you identify yourself as a highly sensitive person (HSP)? HSPs are usually very reactive to their environment and can be affected by everything from noise to temperatures and even the texture of fabrics.

Scientifically known as sensory processing sensitivity (SPS), the trait causes HSPs to have an overactive nervous system which leads them to be:

  • Nervous by change
  • More stirred by emotions
  • Overburdened by crowds
  • Easily frightened by loud noises
  • Deeply induced by the arts, music, and movies
  • Concerned with things like tickling fabrics, intense lights, or powerful perfumes

If you’re an HSP or know someone who’s one, getting quality shuteye at night can be challenging. Here’s how to get proper rest if you’re an HSP.

#1: Prepare a cosy sleep sanctuary

For an HSP, the environment plays a massive role in getting your brain to prepare for shutdown. That is why designing a cosy sleep sanctuary can help your body to ease into slumber.

Bianca Acevedo, PhD, a researcher at the University of California, suggests HSPs inject a sense of home, familiarity, and security in their bedroom. It could mean hitting the sack with your furry buddy or as simple as keeping a picture of a loved one by the bedside.

HSPs can also consider making these physical adjustments:

  • Investing in a white noise machine
  • Switch to comfy pillows, bedsheets, and mattresses
  • Keeping sleeping spaces dark and cool, ideally around 18°C
#2: Use your intuition to find your sleep pattern
a clock in the bedroom

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According to Annie Miller, cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) psychotherapist at DC Metro Sleep & Psychotherapy, every person’s sleeping habits are different.

Since HSPs are highly intuitive, use that to your advantage and find your sleeping pattern. Not everyone requires eight hours of sleep a day. Some can function even with six, so do not force your body to stick to the “norm”.

But if there is one tip to follow, Miller advises HSPs to have a fixed wake-up time. In other words, practise getting up at the exact same time every day.

#3: Develop stress-reducing routines throughout the day

HSPs can be highly stimulated as they go about their day. As such, it’s important to develop routines to reduce anxiety throughout the day.

Since most people know themselves best, figure out your triggers and implement habits around them to lessen their impact. Here are some routines you can try:

  • Use your bed only for sex and sleep
  • Allocate a few hours of me-time daily
  • Take walks in the park during the day
  • Practise relaxing yoga or home meditation
  • Get out of bed after 20 minutes if you can’t fall asleep
  • Introduce short five-minute breaks during office hours
  • Keep clocks and electronics away from your bedroom
  • Reduce coffee, sugar, and alcohol intake, especially before bed
  • Load up on nourishing foods like cheese, avocados, and fatty fish

Ultimately, we encourage you to speak with a mental health professional if you’ve been self-regulating for the longest time ever but to no avail.

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