How Does Stress Affect Sleep?
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Health, Sleep

How Does Stress Affect Sleep?

We all know that the world is evolving rapidly and bringing revolutionary changes. However, being self-sufficient is a thing of the past, and human needs are growing, making them want more and more. Increasing competition, longer working hours, rising expenses, off-schedule work, eating, taking care of family and kids, etc., sometimes make people feel overwhelmed by the pressures of modern life. Conclusively, we end up being afflicted by stressful feelings.    Nevertheless, stress is an essential feeling of our human body that enables us to react or respond to challenging or risky situations, but too much stress harms our bodies and even impacts sleep.   Irrespective of the cause, you might find your mind racing, stirring negative thoughts, tossing and turning, and struggling to get a good night’s sleep.    If your sleep is affected because of stress once in a while, it is not a cause of concern, but if this persists, chances are high that you might have insomnia. While stress impacts sleep, lack of sleep and restless nights can also trigger stress. You might be wondering, how? Let’s know about it in detail and tips you can follow to reduce stress. 

The Relationship Between Stress and Sleep

Generally speaking, when you don’t sleep well, you feel irritated, face difficulty concentrating, and feel drowsy the entire day. Studies show that not having an adequate sleep for even one night can increase your emotional stress level by 30%. Sleep is an essential ingredient that helps in the proper functioning of your body and controls mood. But on the other hand, if you’re already stressed, you might struggle to sleep. Let’s find out why!

How Stress Hampers Sleep?

There are two ways stress impacts sleep: biological body functioning and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) access. When you’re stressed, the body produces more levels of stress hormones–adrenaline and cortisol. The increased levels give you a gush of energy to deal with dangerous situations, maybe to fight back or run.    Simultaneously, more sugar gets pumped into your bloodstream, causing your blood pressure to elevate. This entire stressful situation can make your heart beat fast, tense up your muscles, or mind race. The fight-or-flight response makes you active and anxious, making it difficult to sleep. Indeed, your body is hardwired to stay awake with a rapid heartbeat and a racing mind.    But after the stressful event has passed, the cortisol levels come down. In such situations, the body’s endocrine system relays negative thoughts triggered by the HPA access in the central nervous system. Nevertheless, few people know that HPA access significantly regulates the human body’s 24-hour sleep-wake cycle. The sleep-wake cycle tells your body when it is time to sleep and be alert.    The HPA access during stress causes hyperactivity, reduces sleep duration, and impacts your REM sleep, and this can lead to poor mood regulation and weakened memory.   

How Lack of Sleep Triggers Stress?

If you’re not sleeping adequately, it impacts how you perceive stress. In simple terms, lack of sleep affects how you deal with stress. It tends to make people more emotional, anxious, restless, and you end up handling stress worse. Some people also report getting irritated by things that typically don’t get under the skin.    Conversely, if you sleep well, you’re in a good mood and go with the day’s flow. Likewise, fragmented sleep can cause cortisol levels to spike up. So, if you experience sleepless nights often, you’ll get more stressed than people who sleep well.   

Tips to Cope with Stress and Sleep Better

If we look at the statistics, around 35% of American adults sleep for less than seven hours each night. Indeed, lack of sleep persistently can affect your body and mind. However, you can sleep better when you manage stress effectively. Nevertheless, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to managing stress, but here are some tips for finding the best way to reduce stress. 

Exercise

Exercise is a must every day! It helps to keep you active and regulates the sleep-wake cycle, making you tired and sleepy later in the night. Regular exercising can improve mental health problems like anxiety and depression.   

Maintain a Healthy Diet

Eating highly-processed food with more sugar means you’re at a greater risk of experiencing higher perceived stress levels. Hence, your diet should contain adequate nutrients and proteins, whole food such as fish, fruits, leafy vegetables, etc., to keep your body properly nourished. This eventually helps to fight back stress.  

Practice Guided Meditations

Yoga has now become a synonym for stress relief. With guided breathing techniques, yoga can help reduce stress-related hormones and blood pressure and improve mood. The lower the levels of stress hormones, the better you can sleep.

Minimize Use of Electronics

We understand that everybody’s work significantly depends on laptops and mobile phones, but we recommend avoiding using devices before bedtime to stimulate sleep. In fact, excessive use of smartphones causes increased stress levels. These gadgets emit blue light, and let us tell you, any color of light can squash melatonin creation, the hormone that regulates sleep.  

Maintain a Consistent Sleep Schedule and Environment

When you fix a pattern of waking up and sleeping at the same time every day, your body gets used to it, making it easier to fall asleep. And when you have a good quality sleep, it can help you to cope with stress better.    Likewise, keep your room decluttered and dark at the right temperature, and block unwanted noises. Also, avoid working and eating before bedtime, as these habits can keep you awake.  

Stress Less and Sleep Better

Although stress has become an inevitable part of our lives, it is important to practice self-care and keep stress as low as possible because it can hamper your sleep. However, despite following these tips, if you feel your stress symptoms have lasted for more than a month, we recommend you seek help from certified health professionals.  But if you’re unable to sleep because of a noisy bedfellow and not due to stress, you can use smart anti-snoring solutions like Smart Nora that detects snoring sounds and gently moves the snorer’s pillow to stop them. Smart Nora solution is non-invasive and functions in silence, helping you sleep comfortably and enjoy snore-free nights.
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