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Have You Heard? SLEEP Is Your Best Way To Stress Less

Updated: Jul 8

Get Better Sleep

We all know the harmful effects of stress on our body and mind. Living under pressure 24/7 can definitely impact your life.

Your 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 your system for too long.

Most 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 your brain function.

When your body goes through the fight or flight response (the stress response), your 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 glass of wine after work rather than hitting the gym?

Why does this all matter? Because stress has a direct impact on sleep, too.

In today’s post, I want to show you how your sleep is being impacted by stress and what to do to get a good night's sleep even though you are stressed. What's more, I created a special workbook Own Your Week so you can make time for sleep. This way you can start your morning fresh.

So, let’s dive in.

How Stress Impacts Your Sleep

As mentioned before, during stress your body goes into a flight or fight response. During the stress response, your body produces cortisol and adrenaline to help you 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 sports world, we can see how thanks to adrenaline, records can be beaten. You see, not all stress is bad. We can achieve more thanks to stress.

But the increased levels of adrenaline start becoming a problem when your body is constantly flooded with it. Adrenaline is stored in your body as muscle tension, therefore if you don’t burn it off during the day, it hangs in your body preventing you from going to sleep.

In addition, stress impacts you on a mental level too.

The constant worrying, going to bed angry or upset, or letting anxiety increase will keep you up. The more you think about things that are out of control, the more you rehearse 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. To put it most simply, we can’t function if we don’t sleep. Period.

Sleep is essential not only to the healthy functioning of your body and mind but to your life. During the deep stages of sleep, the growth hormones are 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 that strengthen it, is essential when it comes to our health and wellbeing.

Sleep also helps with your cognitive health. During deep stages of sleep, your memories are shifted from your short-term memory storage (hippocampus) to the long-term memory storage of your 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? Several behaviours can interfere with the quality of your sleep. As mentioned before stress can easily derail your logical thinking and you may often find yourself making decisions that do not support your sleep.

The way to stop the chain of reaction is to manage the stress and prepare yourself 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 your body’s energy distribution during the day and night. When your circadian clock is out of sync, you 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, which 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 Less and Sleep More

Stress has a direct impact on the quality of your sleep. A short-lived level of adrenaline can help us to achieve more, but if it hangs in your 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 your life can prevent you from getting that needed rest.

We can’t function without sleep. If there is one thing to remember about sleep, let it be that sleep is a time for your body to rebuild, restore, and repair. It’s time to heal.

When we sleep better, we can manage stress better. And we can manage the stress in our lives because we are well-rested.

Synchronize your circadian clock. Make sure your external environment is set up to give you the needed comfort. Get the balance between eating, drinking, exercising, and staying off electronics right. Elevate your evening routine to signal your body so you get the deserved zzzzz.

So, what are you going to do today to stress less and sleep better?

Own Your Time

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