How Does Stress Affect Your Sleep
As I begin to type this it’s a Monday night. To be honest I don’t have a lot of energy to write a post but I feel like I need to at least get started. Tomorrow when I have more energy I’ll finish this post. Now since it is Monday my energy level is typically lower due to my sleep schedule getting a bit out of whack over the weekend. The other part that has me feeling more worn down than usual is the amount of stress happening right now. Before you get too worried about me it’s nothing earth shattering. There’s a variety of changes going on and it’s just been one of those more stressful months. Which leads us to today’s topic of how does stress affect your sleep.
Cycles of Sleep
I don’t know about you but I go through various cycles of sleep. When I talk about a cycle I mean periods where I sleep better and others where I sleep worse. Sometimes this seems to be due to the changing of the seasons. For instance when Fall begins to roll around I typically start sleeping a lot deeper. Must be the hibernation side of me. Other times I will go for a period of a week where I wake up 5 times a night for no apparent reason. Or I might have a difficult time falling asleep. I have a pretty good sleep routine too. Most nights I will read a book for 20-30 minutes before turning out the light. That usually does a great job of relaxing my mind.
Certainly stress can play a role on how I sleep. When I have too many things going on (which is pretty often) I will tend to wake up before my alarm with my mind already thinking about what I have to do. The worst is when I wake up about an hour before my alarm is scheduled to go off. Severe dislike.
This falls into the arena of sleep and stress. So now let’s look at specific ways of how does stress affect your sleep.
My Wicked Mind
First and probably the biggest way that stress affects your sleep is your inability to turn off your mind. I know when I am stressing over something it’s very hard to turn my mind off. For example right now I have so many things on my plate I have a hard time keeping track of them. That’s not normal for me. I am typically a pretty organized and in control fella. So the fact that I am barely staying afloat right now is causing me additional stress. The biggest surefire sign for me: the waking up an hour before my alarm goes off with my mind already whirling with it’s “do do” list.
For many people it’s the beginning of the sleep cycle that stress affects them the most. This is when you can’t get your mind to shut off because you’ve either got too much going on or something is really stressing you. Maybe your relationships is turning south. Might be a huge project at work. Or maybe your company just got acquired. Who knows, the list goes on and on. These types of things have many of us up nights worrying relentlessly.
The Cycle Continues The Next Day
Now that you’ve just had a crappy night of sleep because of stress you get to pay for it again the next day. Here’s how. Because you didn’t get enough sleep your body will now increase it’s output of stress hormones. The brain chemicals that are associated with deep sleep are also the ones that tell your body to stop the production of stress hormones. Of course now that you didn’t sleep very well your body will keep cranking out these stress hormones. So now you feel even more stressed and at night you will again have a hard time going to sleep. It’s like a maze you can’t get out of! Oh the many ways of how does stress affect your sleep – let me count thee.
It Just Gets Worse
Now we are starting to see how does stress affect your sleep. It just keeps getting better and better.
Now that you are even more tired and stressed your bucket of patience is getting lower and lower. You have a harder time focusing at work and paying attention to conversations. You tend to snap at people much quicker and your mood takes a nose dive. Now that stress has firmly ingrained itself into your day to day life here’s some other things you can look forward to. People with ongoing stress and the lack of sleep stress causes have higher incidences of heart disease and high blood pressure. They are more prone to depression, upset stomach, and a weakened immune system.
How to Negate the Affects of Stress on Your Sleep
Isn’t stress awesome! Now that we’ve reviewed how does stress affect your sleep let’s see if there are some ways we can combat that. Here are a few things to help minimize the effect stress has on slumber time.
Come on, this is me talking. You knew this one was going to be in here. That aside a regular exercise routine can help you relax more at night. The reason being is you are wearing your body out by working it out. This has a double bonus affect. First of all it gives you an outlet for your stress. Ever work out when you are pissed off? Exactly, you are hitting it……hard! Second of all it wears our body out and helps you fall asleep faster because your body needs to rest.
Read a Book
Remember when I mentioned how I read a book before I got to sleep? Sometimes I read a self improvement book but most of the time it’s a fiction book. Something I don’t have to concentrate too hard on. I can simply read and let my mind wander along with the story. This is a GREAT way to unplug right before turning off the light. The vast majority of the time it helps me shut my mind down and fall asleep faster.
This is something I have tried from time to time and when I do it really helps. The problem for me is that I have a hard time working this into my nighttime routine lately. This is mostly because I don’t wind up shutting off my various “to do’s” until it’s about 30 minutes before bedtime. I’ve got to get better at that. Anyway, if you can make 20 minutes to meditate a bit before bed the benefits are wonderful. I highly recommend it.
Lighten Your Load
Okay, this is an area where I could really heed my own advice. If you find your mind focusing on too many things maybe it’s time to simply do less. I know it sure is for me. When you cut out some of the noise and bulls**t in your life you simply have less to worry about. And one of the cool things about getting older is you just don’t care about as much. You realize the things that are most important to you and those become the things you focus on and let the other crap fall away.
Here are a few things that could be helpful when stress keeps affecting your sleep.
The Little Book of Mindfulness: Focus, Slowdown. De-Stress – by Tiddy Rowan
Dreamtime Spa Comforts Microwavable Shoulder Wrap – by Spa Comfort
Mobilitas Muscle Gel – by Mobilitas
Serenilite 3X Hand Therapy Exercise Stress Ball Bundle – by Serenilite
Ohm Store Tibetan Singing Bowl Set – by Ohm Store
Aromatherapy Associates De-Stress Body Oil – by Aromatherapy Associates
We’ve taken a look at how to quickly answer how does stress affect your sleep. Stress is a topic I’ve written quite a lot about. It is an everyday part of our lives and unless we take steps to minimize it stress can really affect our quality of life. This includes our sleep.
Make sure you take some action to keep stress in it’s place.
In good mental AND physical health,