The Relationship between Sleep Habits and Stress

If you were to examine your lifestyle today, chances are high you are not getting sufficient amounts of sleep anyway. The world we live in is hyper-fast, and to add on that, the levels of stress we go through on a daily basis are generally high.

Many people suffer from sleep disorders because of this, but they suffer in silence because there is not much awareness on the issue. The problem is very prevalent – in fact, a recent national sleep study revealed that 40 percent of the respondents said they were not getting the required amounts of sleep they need. In about 10,000 people, only one out of four is getting sufficient sleep amounts of eight hours. To make it even worse, one in four people are getting sleep in only five hours or less, and that brings a greater risk of getting health problems as well as the increase in car accidents.

The ultimate question we need to ask is this – why are there so many problems with sleeping these days?

When the body experiences a situation or something that it sees as a ‘threat’, it will trigger a stress response, regardless of whether the threat is psychological, physical, imagined or real. The response will create a host of effects in the body, including shallow and quickened breathing.

Other effects will be the release of various hormones that release energy into the muscles and cells, including cortisol, adrenaline, and others. The combination of the hormonal and physical changes will give the body greater energy spikes to help in the ‘flight or fight’ response.

However, the end responses of running or fighting are not appropriate for the stressful situations we go through in our lives every day, such as difficult colleagues, traffic jams, and conflicts in relationships, but the body still reacts in this way. In fact, it can occur more than several times in a day in most cases.

When you fail to resolve these situations or do not take time off to relax, the body remains in a state of chronic stress, whether you realize it or not. This will make you constantly tense and tired, and you find yourself tossing and turning in bed at night, all because you cannot sleep.

Thinking about something and trying to sleep

When you find yourself trying to sleep yet you cannot, you may be thinking about something. Many people today experience the situation of losing your sleep because you are still thinking about a situation that is stressing you out.

Some people can even find their sleep cycles interrupted, waking up in the middle of the night, or thinking about something that has surfaced suddenly in their minds – that can make one unable to go back to sleep quickly.

The sleep you get and being busy

Your level of busy can be a hindrance to you getting quality sleep, as you want to accompl8ish as much as possible without ‘wasting time’ on sleeping. However, this is a wrong attitude to have, and you should not be surprised when you can hardly concentrate on your work because you are too exhausted.

In addition, being too busy can trigger a stress response, as your body may interpret the workload as a threat.

Other causes of lack of sleep

Not every sleeping problem has a direct link to stress, as some cause may be indirect. For instance, specific changes in the levels of some hormones during menopause and the aging process will affect your sleeping patterns significantly. Another cause could be certain medications that change the levels of some hormones in the brain, causing a lack of sleep; in addition to stimulants such as caffeine and drugs such as alcohol.

In addition to these, there are illnesses you may be suffering from, which can make sleep difficult for you – including disorders that cause chronic pain and mental illnesses such as anxiety. All of these may give you stress as you try to manage them, and make the problem worse, so it is important to seek help.

Strategies to improve your sleeping ability

You do not need to purchase expensive beddings and a puffy mattress to sleep well, so it is important to discover the underlying reason for your sleep issues.

If the cause is related directly to stressful episodes and their effects, then you need to consider doing certain stress management activities that help you deal with it. These include meditation, and reducing a busy schedule.

Take time off to enjoy other aspects of your life, and do not be tied down to your job at the expense of your health. This ability will help you sleep better and teach you to free up more time for your relaxation.

Breathing exercises are a great tool in relieving tension from the body, which helps in reducing stress, lower cortisol and adrenaline levels, and help you have an easier time trying to sleep or stay asleep.

Make sure to maintain healthy sleep habits and a healthy schedule, such as turning off the TV or computer before going to bed, and reducing your exposure to light. This will go a long way in ensuring you have an easier time when you go to bed. Part of this also involves doing some stretches to relax your muscles, through the use of both deep relaxation and progressive muscle relaxing techniques.

However, if you have tried all these strategies and have failed to get a solution, you should not underestimate the power of a nap – especially when you are still tired. Even though taking naps for longer than half an hour is not recommended because it increases your chances of struggling with nighttime sleep, it can be useful for helping you increase your productivity during the day and make you less stressed.

Final thoughts

It is not easy to catch a break in the world we live in today – but you can dedicate some time to sleep to help in the management of stress. The well-rested you are, the less reactive you become, and that can improve your health in the long-term.

If you have any questions, please ask below!