Updated: Dec 1, 2021
We all know the harmful effects of stress on our body and mind. Living under pressure 24/7 can definitely impact your life.
Our immune system takes the biggest hit when it comes to stress. The constant flood of harmful chemicals such as cortisol and adrenaline can lead to illnesses if they stay in our system for too long.
Most of the mood disorders such as anxiety or depression are developed because of the continuous presence of stress in our daily lives. We either stress about the past or obsess about the future, creating a spiral of never-ending worry.
Stress also plays a major role in our brain function. When our body goes through the fight or flight response (the stress response), our rational brain shuts down. Areas such as the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, which are responsible for memory and logical thinking, can’t function properly. This means that when you’re under stress, you are more likely to make unhealthy choices. You’ve been through so much emotionally and physiologically that rather than going to exercise, you engage in counterproductive behaviour. Have you ever picked that second beer after work rather than hitting the gym?
But stress has a direct impact on sleep.
And in today’s post, I want to show you how our sleep is being impacted by stress and what to do to get a good night's sleep despite the fact that we are stressed. What more I created a special downloadable 5 simple strategies to stop the mental stress and get a good night sleep for the busy perfectionist cheat sheet for you! This way you can start your morning fresh.
So, let’s dive in.
How stress impacts your sleep
Stress can impact sleep either physically or mentally.
As mentioned before, during stress our body goes into a flight or fight response. During our stress response, our body produces cortisol and adrenaline to help us to cope with the situation. Stress response was designed as a survival mechanism and in that respect it works very well. Even today, when we turn to the sport’s world, we can see how thanks to adrenaline, records can be beaten. We can achieve more thanks to stress.
But the increased levels of adrenaline start becoming a problem when our body is constantly flooded with it. Adrenaline is stored in our body as muscle tension, therefore if we don’t burn it off during the day, it hangs in our body preventing us from going to sleep.
But stress impacts us on a mental level too. The constant worrying, going to bed angry or upset, or letting our anxiety to increase will keep us up. The more you think about things which are out of control, the more you rehearsal the day’s events wishing you acted differently or said something else in that meeting, the further away you will be from going to sleep.
So, what is the quality of your sleep? Is stress preventing you from sleeping?
Why sleep is important
There are many ways to manage stress, but the best remedy is rest aka sleep. In the simplest way, we can’t function if we don’t sleep. Period.
Sleep is essential not only to the healthy functioning of our body and mind but to our lives. During the deep stages of sleep, the growth hormones are being released which helps your tissues, bones, muscles, organs, and so on to restore, repair, and rebuild. Without deep sleep, your body can’t heal itself from the daily stressors.
But deep sleep also helps your body to produce cytokines, proteins that help regulate your immune system. Stress weakens our immune system, therefore making sure we deliver enough building blocks which strengthen it, is essential when it comes to our health and wellbeing.
Sleep also helps with our cognitive health. During deep stages of sleep, our memories are being shifted from our short-term memory storage (hippocampus) to the long-term memory storage of our brain (prefrontal cortex).
When you are well rested, after a good quality sleep, you are more energetic, your cognitive thinking is more solution-driven and you are more capable of coping with stress in more productive ways.
How to sleep better
So, if we know how important sleep is and that stress directly disturbs sleep, what can we do to change that?
There are a number of behaviours that can interfere with the quality of our sleep. And as mentioned before stress can easily derail our logical thinking and make us make decisions which are not supporting our sleep. The way to stop the chain of reaction is to manage the stress and prepare ourselves for a good night's sleep. And here are 5 ways how to do it:
#1 Sync your circadian clock
The circadian clock is your internal clock regulated by light. It helps with our body’s energy distribution during the day and night. When our circadian clock is out of sync, we are tired, prone to catching an illness, less productive, and above all not able to manage stress. To sync your circadian clock you need to sync your wake-sleep cycle by going to bed and waking up at the same time.
#2 Prepare your sleeping environment
The more inviting your environment is, the better sleep you get. Your bed is designed for sleeping, this means all other activities should be kept out such as reading, watching TV, eating and so on. Your bedroom should be dark and cooler to allow your body to rest comfortably. Part of your sleeping environment is staying off any electronics, especially smartphones.
#3 Monitor your eating and drinking
You want to avoid excessive eating (especially heavy, big meals) and drinking (especially alcohol or caffeine) before you go to sleep because you don’t want your digestive system to start working when you are ready to rest.
#4 Get some exercise
Physical activity is a great remedy for sleep and to reduce stress. Not only does it help to burn off the muscle tension, but it can prepare your body for that needed rest. However, remember that exercise should be done at least 2hr before your bedtime, so your metabolism has the time to slow down.
#5 Create an evening routine
I’m a big fan of routines. First of all, it prevents brain fatigue, but it gives us a sense of control which is so needed when we’re stressed. Creating an evening routine that supports your sleep can be just the tool you need. For an evening routine pick activities which will signal your body it’s time for bed, so taking a warm bath or shower, reading, meditating, or breathing exercises are all good options.
Stress has a direct impact on the quality of our sleep. A short-lived level of adrenaline can help us to achieve more, but if it hangs in our body for too long, it’s stored as muscle tension. If you can’t burn it off during the day, it impacts your sleep.
Because our lives are busier, we have more demands and commitments, anxiety and depression are on the rise. The constant worrying about literally everything in our lives can prevent us from getting that needed rest.
We can’t function without sleep. If there is one thing to remember about sleep, let be that sleep is a time for our body to rebuild, restore and repair. It’s time when we can heal.
When we sleep better, we can manage stress better. And we can manage the stress in our lives because we are well-rested
Firstly, you need to sync your circadian clock, your internal clock of wake and sleep cycle so your energy can be distributed in a way that gets you through the day.
Secondly, prepare your environment for sleep, this means dark room, with no illuminating light, no electronics, where the temperature is a little bit cooler.
Thirdly, avoid big late meals and excessive drinking so your digestive system can rest rather than work hard to digest the food.
Fourthly, exercising can be extremely beneficial when it comes to sleep. Thanks to burning out the unwanted adrenaline, our muscles are ready for rest.
Fifthly, an evening routine can signal your body that it’s time to go to sleep so you can make sure you get the rest you need.
So, what are you going to do today to stress less and sleep better?
And don’t forget to get this downloadable 5 simple strategies to stop the mental stress and get a good night's sleep for the busy perfectionist cheat sheet! This way you can start your morning fresh.
Having problems with managing your stress? Go on: www.annadoktor.com.au to find out more about Anna Doktor Wellness Coaching and how I can help you to beat the overwhelm once and for all. Alternatively send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call to have a chat to see how we can work together tel: 0498016440.
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