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How Does Stress Affect Your Sleep?

How Does Stress Affect Your Sleep?

Feeling stressed? It’s likely that if you are, you’re also feeling very tired.

Stress of any kind can have an enormous impact on your daily life, both in terms of how you feel during the day and how you sleep at night. Being stressed directly impinges on the quality of your sleep, and this, in turn, leads to feeling overtired and even more stressed during the day. A vicious cycle is set that can be difficult to overcome.

There are some specific sleep deprivation symptoms and these can not only ruin your day, but they can also actively impinge on your health and safety. To function at your best, quality sleep is essential. For this reason, it’s crucial to address stress and overcome it.

How Stress Affects Sleep

Stress impacts sleep quality in a number of ways. It increases both physiological and psychological arousal, and these are not compatible with what your body and mind require to achieve a relaxed state and restorative sleep.

Some clear signs that you are too stressed to sleep properly include:

  • Muscle Tension – tense muscles cause pain, which further impinges on your quality of sleep. This is usually experienced as a stiff neck, tension headache, and shoulder pain. To make matters worse, poor sleep quality in and of itself leads to daytime tension headaches.

Those people who suffer from migraines may have these triggered by poor quality sleep – which further increases stress levels. Finally, sensitivity to pain during the day, a direct result of poor sleep, itself results in higher stress levels.

  • The mind is Racing – frustrations, worrying, and general anxiety are a direct result of stress. These actively set you up to feel even more stressed, and deep sleep becomes very elusive. When you do sleep, stress can cause disturbing dreams and wakefulness, limiting access to proper healthy sleep cycles.

  • Palpitations – this sensation of having a racing heart is a result of increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This is released into the bloodstream by the body’s endocrine system. It is a natural fight-or-flight response to a perceived threat; it limits the body’s ability to go to sleep.

Sleep experts estimate that as many as 40% of us do not get enough sleep. One of the main causes of this statistic is stress. Modern life is full of stressors, and even the calmest of people can easily become stressed in certain situations.

The physiological response to stress is a result of the fight-or-flight response, a biological process of a heightened state that is triggered by initial stress, and when it is prolonged, it becomes a physiological go-to by the body, even when the stressor is removed. In this instance, the body is working properly, but inappropriately by creating this response. This, in turn, causes a state of chronic stress, which can lead to chronic anxiety and panic attacks, failure to achieve deep sleep, severe sleep deprivation, and various other negative effects on health and wellbeing.

What is the Negative Cycle Effect?

When you are stressed, you sleep poorly at night; sleeping poorly at night, you become more easily fatigued; as a result, you will be more reactive to stress during the day. This sets up a chronic cycle, and the chronic inappropriate release of cortisol in the body creates a burst of energy which is incompatible with relaxation and sleep.

The Effects of Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation is a direct cause of daytime fatigue. It can be due to having trouble going to sleep, having trouble staying asleep, or failing to achieve healthy sleep cycles.

Sleep deprivation symptoms include:

  • Fatigue, sleepiness, and morning grogginess
  • Falling asleep during the day and microsleep
  • Weight gain
  • Irritability
  • Lack of motivation
  • Poor concentration, shortened attention span, and memory issues
  • Constant yawning
  • Poor academic performance and difficulty focusing on the task at hand
  • Impaired judgement, making errors, and poor decision-making skills
  • Loss of coordination (similar to being affected by alcohol)
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Accident and injury
  • Ongoing stress

Children experiencing sleep deprivation are inclined to become moody, irritable, overactive or even hyperactive, have temper tantrums, and require longer daytime naps.

How to Resolve Stress-Related Sleep Issues

You can minimise your stress levels and their impact on your night-time sleep by adopting certain habits:

  • Learn to think positive to mitigate anxiety-related stress – get professional help with this if you need to with a psychologist or counsellor
  • Avoid alcohol, cigarette smoking, and the use of illicit substances
  • Avoid the use of sedative medications – these don’t provide healthy sleep cycles and reliance upon these create other health issues
  • Eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of fresh, plain water
  • Avoid caffeine – this arouses the body and mind
  • Avoid sodas, which are high in sugar.
  • Implement a standard pre-sleep ritual – including going to bed at the same time each night, but not too late.
  • Take a warm bath and use lavender essential oil to encourage relaxation.
  • Have a cup of chamomile tea or a warm milk drink before bedtime.
  • Keep your bedroom at a cool but not cold temperature for ideal sleep conditions.
  • 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 clench or grind your teeth, speak to your dentist for solutions.
  • Snoring and sleep apnoea can be a direct cause of stress and sleep deprivation for you and your sleep partner. Seek professional advice for snoring and sleep apnoea, and invest in an ApneaRX stop snoring device.

Discover ApneaRX

Explore the ApneaRX website to purchase our revolutionary oral device to help alleviate snoring and potentially help with sleep apnoea. You will also have access to a wealth of information relating to achieving a better night’s sleep and eliminating the stress related to sleeping. Contact us to learn more.