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How Stress Affects Your Sleep

How stress affects sleep - Man at laptop

Sleep deprivation has a negative impact on your daily life, and sleep deprivation symptoms can ruin your day and impinge on your health and safety. Quality sleep is essential for your health and wellbeing, from functioning at your best to avoiding the development of serious health conditions. It is as important to the human body as getting adequate water and food.

Stress, whether it is acute or chronic, can take an enormous toll on your sleep quality. And this, in and of itself, impacts on your stress levels.

How Does Stress Affect Sleep?

Feeling stressed takes a significant toll on your quality of sleep. Stress increases both psychological and physiological arousal, and this aroused condition is incompatible with what your body requires to achieve a relaxed state and proper, restorative sleep. As a result, quality sleep becomes elusive.

Some signs that you are too stressed to sleep well include:

  • Racing heart – this is due to increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol which is released into the bloodstream by the endocrine (glandular) system. This is a fight-or-flight response to a perceived threat and it is anything but conducive to sleep.
  • Tense Muscles – muscle tension results in pain which further impinges on sleep. Most commonly, this is experienced as a stiff neck, headache, and shoulder pain. Poor sleep additionally leads to daytime tension headaches and even migraine in sufferers of the condition. Pain sensitivity during the day results in higher stress levels.
  • Racing Mind – thinking about anxieties, frustrations, and generally worrying are a direct result of stress and they set you up to feel even more stressed. This is the biggest impingement of stress on sleep.

As many as 40% of us do not get enough sleep, and stress is among the leading causes of this. Modern life is full of stressors, from paying bills to traffic jams to difficult work circumstances to personal relationship conflict to raising kids – all of these cause stress which triggers the fight-or-flight response, and this heightened state, when it is prolonged, becomes a physiological go-to by the body even when the stressor is removed. This causes a state of chronic stress which can lead to severe sleep deprivation, failure to achieve deep sleep, panic attacks, and other negative effects on health and wellbeing.

The Negative Cycle Effect

When you are stressed, you sleep poorly at night. When you sleep poorly at night, having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, you become more easily fatigued and as a result will be more reactive to stress during the day. This sets up a vicious cycle, and the chronic inappropriate release of cortisol in the body creates a burst of energy.

Sleep Deprivation – Effects

Sleep deprivation, whether a result of not getting enough sleep or due to disruptions to the sleep-wake cycle, is a direct cause of daytime fatigue.

Symptoms include but are not limited to:

  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Morning grogginess
  • Poor concentration and shortened attention span
  • Memory issues
  • Constant yawning
  • Poor academic performance and difficulty focusing
  • Weight gain
  • Falling asleep during the day and microsleep
  • Impaired judgement and poor decision-making skills
  • Loss of coordination (similar to being affected by alcohol)
  • Making errors
  • Lack of motivation
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Accident and injury
  • Ongoing stress

Children experience different symptoms of sleep deprivation; they are more inclined to become overactive or even hyperactive, as well as be moody, irritable, have temper tantrums, and require more or longer daytime naps.

Resolve Your Stress-Related Sleep Issues

By implementing healthy stress management strategies, you can minimise your stress levels and their impact on your night-time sleep.

  • Learn to think positive – get professional help with this if you need to
  • Avoid alcohol, cigarette smoking, and use of elicit substances
  • Avoid use of sedative medications
  • Eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of water
  • Avoid caffeine – this arouses the body and mind
  • Implement a pre-sleep ritual –go to bed at the same time each night, not too late. Have a cup of chamomile tea or a warm milk drink before bedtime. Take a warm bath and use lavender essential oil.
  • Read a book before bedtime but don’t use digital, backlit screens within at least an hour of going to bed.
  • Perform relaxation exercises – including meditation, visualisation, and simple breathing exercises.
  • If you experience severe ongoing anxiety or panic attacks, seek medical advice.
  • If you clench or grind your teeth, speak to your dentist
  • Snoring can be a direct cause of stress for you and your sleep partner. Seek professional advice for snoring and invest in a SnoreMD stop snoring device.

Discover SnoreMD

Explore the SnoreMD website to purchase our revolutionary stop snoring device to help alleviate snoring which can impact on your sleep. You will also have access to information relating to achieving a better night’s sleep and eliminating stress related to sleeping. Contact us to learn more.

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