5 WAYS STRESS AFFECTS YOUR SLEEP, AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT

A small dose of stress can push us to achieve good results and encourage motivation. Too much stress, on the other hand, can create sleep problems, trigger anxiety and depression and cause weight loss or weight gain. When we’re stressed, our minds cannot rest or shut down at night, affecting brain functions involved in memory, muscle repair and even our mood.

Unfortunately, stress is inevitable. But we can take steps to manage it.

Common Signs of Stress:
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Mistakes at work
  • Lack of concentration
  • Tension

Too much stress puts your health and well-being at risk, so learning how to manage your stress is important to lead a happy, healthy life.

5 ways stress affects your sleep
  1. Stress stops you from getting the amount of sleep you need.
  2. Stress affects the quality of the sleep you do get.
  3. Stress can increase your risk of insomnia.
  4. Stress prevents your brain from shutting down at night.
  5. Stress creates a vicious cycle.

Tips for managing stress

Find the cause

Once you know what is the root of your stress, you can take steps to manage it and reduce it. Common causes could be suffering from a pain condition, or having an excessive workload.

Get support

Sharing your problems and spending time with family or friends will help you to alleviate some stress. The people who care about you want to be able to help you. 

Change thought patterns

How we feel is determined by how we think. By managing our thoughts we can avoid exaggerating a small problem or mistake and worrying ourselves when we shouldn’t.

Exercise

Exercise seems to be an answer to so many problems. It helps you to blow off steam and can ease pain. Loose muscles are at a lower risk of becoming tight and painful due to stress. Before starting an exercise routine, it’s best to get advice from your doctor and only do what you’re comfortable with.

Eat well

Eating a healthy diet, low in alcohol, caffeine and sugar will make you feel healthier and reduce stress. Avoid junk food and foods using refined sugars as these are low in nutritional value but high in calories, leaving you feeling sluggish and without energy.

Sleep

A poor night’s sleep can leave you agitated and short tempered. A lack of sleep when you’re suffering from pain is a vicious cycle that you don’t want to get stuck in, making your pain feel worse and increasing stress levels. Getting a good night’s sleep prepares you to tackle stress efficiently and can help to ease some of your pain you are feeling.

Stress makes us toss and turn in the night, affecting how much sleep we manage to get. Our brains won’t switch off, leading us to lie awake for hours a night. Not only does it stop us from getting enough sleep, it affects the quality of the shut-eye we do get.

Being stressed can increase our chances of developing insomnia. Not only can it affect the amount of sleep and the quality, but it can stop us from sleeping at all some nights by sending our brains in to overdrive, especially if we are a victim of ongoing stress. When we are overly worried, our sympathetic nervous system doesn’t shut down so we cannot switch to the calmer parasympathetic nervous system, causing our brains to remain hyperactive and leaving us wide awake.

Top tips for sleep

  • Lavender - the scent helps to relax the body which can also help with insomnia. Light a lavender scented candle or put a few drops essential oil on your pillow.
  • Relaxation techniques - such as yoga or meditation.
  • Give yourself some worry time - write down your thoughts or discuss them with a friend for 15 minutes a day. After the 15 minutes, throw away the paper and move on.
  • Lower body temperature before bed - exercise at least 2 hours before bed and avoid hot baths unless it’s at least 2 hours prior to hitting the sack. Similarly, cool down your bedroom. If it’s hot and stuffy you won’t fall asleep.
  • Make some noise when going to sleep - playing white noise to drown out road traffic or listening to soothing sounds can help you drift off to sleep.
  • Get yourself a bedtime routine - and stick to it every night to tell your body it’s time for bed.
  • Get comfortable - make sure your mattress is giving you the right amount of support and comfort.