Perhaps you have noticed an interdependent connection between the stress you experience and your quality of sleep. The two are certainly linked in a cyclical pattern. When you feel stressed, your body struggles to relax, which affects how much and how well you sleep. Lack of quality sleep has an adverse effect on many aspects of your daily life and leads to increased stress. Read on to understand why it is important to find a stress-sleep balance to maintain your happiness and health.
EUSTRESS AND DISTRESS
Stress is a feeling of psychological or emotional tension resulting from demanding circumstances. Some stress is beneficial. This positive energy, called eustress, usually lasts a short while, and can help a person improve performance or feel excited.
The unpleasant energy, or distress, is the kind that wears a person down and causes one to feel overwhelmed, sad, or hopeless. Major life events such as challenges with finances or employment, physical or emotional abuse, injury or illness, or the death of a family member or loved one can lead to episodes of distress. Additionally, this type of stress is more likely to affect sleeping patterns, which has an overall influence on overall health.
IMPORTANCE OF GOOD SLEEP
When the length and quality of sleep decreases, stress increases. Research shows that, to function at their best, most healthy adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, however, more than one-third of adults do not get enough sleep. This leads to feelings of fatigue and irritability, which in turn add stress.
The human brain needs sleep to energize the body and create memories. When we sleep, our minds process what we have learned throughout each day. As such, adequate sleep is essential for the brain’s ability to absorb, compute, and store information and experiences.
Constant lack of sleep can lead to:
- Impaired alertness and concentration
- Becoming easily angered, irritable, or frustrated
- Lack of interest or motivation
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Increased risk of heart disease, stomach issues, or a weakened immune system
At the same time, these factors magnify stress and further inhibit sleep patterns. The process is cyclical and seems to feed itself.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Finding appropriate and helpful ways to combat tension can end this cycle. Fortunately, a consistent bedtime routine may help you achieve an agreeable stress-sleep balance and take control of your life.
Enjoy a warm beverage, such as milk or chamomile tea. Milk contains ingredients that help promote more restful sleep. Chamomile helps alleviate anxiety so you can fall asleep easier.
Try doing yoga. Studies show that doing yoga can help you fall asleep faster and improve the effectiveness of your sleep, so you feel more refreshed. Otherwise, simply focus on breathing techniques. Breathe deeply and consistently in and out to encourage relaxation.
Clear your head prior to bedtime. Set aside a few minutes during the day or earlier in the evening to deal with any worrisome issues. Write down any thoughts, schedules, lists, or solutions to quiet your mind and make it easier to drift to sleep.
The blue light from electronic display screens can disturb your circadian clock and throw off your body’s day-night cycle. Avoid screen time – including phones, tablets, and televisions – when winding down at the end of your day.
Something else you can do to help find your stress-sleep balance is talk to a professional, like Laurie Grengs Counseling. If the stressors in your life are causing you to lose sleep, contact us. We can discuss with you the causes of your anxiety and the ways these issues affect your sleep patterns. Then we can guide you toward managing stress, so you can take control and once again learn to relax.