The Relationship Between Sleep and Stress, Explained
If you ever find yourself tossing and turning at night, you're far from the only one. Up to 70 million Americans suffer from insomnia issues each year!
There are tons of reasons why people might deal with insomnia. Many times, however, the reason people are struggling with sleep is due to stress.
Are you interested in learning more about the link between sleep and stress? Let's check out how stress impacts sleep as well as a few tips on stress reduction for better sleep.
We get stressed when we perceive physical or psychological threats. Those threats can be real or they could simply be in your head. Either way, that perception triggers our bodies to release stress hormones, such as cortisol, into the body.
When you have high levels of stress hormones, your body gets a burst of energy. That energy is supposed to help you either run away from or fight off danger in a truly life-threatening situation.
Most of the time, however, we aren't in life-threatening situations. Instead, we're simply dealing with difficulties at work or in our daily lives.
When that happens, our bodies maintain prolonged stress levels. Prolonged stress levels then cause all kinds of things to go haywire in our bodies, including our sleep regulation.
The Effects of Stress on Sleep
When we're constantly stressed and on edge, our bodies can't relax. That's because they're geared up to tackle the impending danger that is supposedly fast approaching.
What then ends up happening is that we feel more hyperactive and begin to have racing thoughts when we try to close our eyes. As a result, we experience all kinds of problems such as:
- Decreased sleep duration
- Poor sleep quality
- Reduced REM sleep
- Reduced delta power
All those issues simply lead to even more stress, putting us in the midst of a vicious cycle.
Sleep Tips for Stress
If you're dealing with stress, don't panic. There are ways that you can get better sleep for reducing stress and help yourself break out of the damaging cycle!
Let's take a look at a few tips for stress reduction for better sleep so that you can start catching some Z's and feeling your best.
One technique you can use to help reduce stress and improve your sleep is to meditate mindfully. When you practice mindfulness, you focus on the present moment rather than thinking about your to-do lists for tomorrow.
For this strategy, lie still in your bed in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Breathe in and out deeply to help regulate your breathing and begin to focus on the moment.
Notice what sensations and feelings you are experiencing. As thoughts enter your brain, acknowledge them and dismiss them so that you have a clear mind.
Although it can take a bit of getting used to, using this technique can help you get great sleep quality and start feeling less stressed at night.
Get a Better Mattress
Did you know that your mattress can play a huge role in how well you sleep? That's true even if you don't realize it!
The reason why your mattress is so critical is that it's what allows you to get comfortable. If you're not able to get into a comfortable position, you may have a harder time falling asleep.
On top of that, if your mattress leaves you with aches and pains, that's another sign that you'll have trouble falling asleep. When you're in pain, it's harder for you to fall asleep and get good quality sleep, either.
If your mattress seems too soft or too hard, you might want to consider getting a new mattress. Look for a medium-firm mattress that is comfortable and makes you feel great no matter what position you're in.
Turn Off the Devices
Many of us are glued to our phones day in and day out. This is a huge mistake when it comes to getting a good night's sleep, however.
The reason behind this is that the blue light that our screens give off actually triggers our brains to be more alert. As a result, we have a harder time falling asleep.
A good rule of thumb is to turn off the electronics about 30 minutes before you're ready to fall asleep. You might find that when you do go to get some shut-eye, you fall asleep much more quickly!
Get Some Exercise
Getting physical exercise is important for not only being in shape but also for lowering cortisol levels. With lowered cortisol levels, you'll have an easier time getting to sleep!
Don't panic, either. We're not saying you need to run a marathon every day. In fact, you probably don't need to make much of a change to your lifestyle at all.
In general, people need to get about 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week. That could be by hitting the gym, going for a walk, or trying your hand at a sport! No matter what it is, by exercising enough you may find that you get better sleep.
Make Some Lifestyle Changes
There are a couple of other lifestyle changes you can make to help yourself reduce stress and improve your sleep. A few suggestions include:
- Eating a well-balanced diet
- Reducing your alcohol consumption
- Drinking less caffeine
- Leaving work at the office and relaxing once you get home
- Speaking to friends and family about your stress
Making these simple changes can wind up being a game-changer for many individuals who struggle with stress. It can be the key to getting a good night's sleep every night!
Handling Sleep and Stress Made Simple
Although stress can leave you feeling as though you'll never get a wink of sleep, these tips can make things easier. By following these tips for handling sleep and stress, you should be able to relax and unwind at night!
Remember, one way to get rid of sleep issues is to get a new mattress. If you're in need of new bedding, get in touch and we'll hook you up with the pillows, mattresses, and blankets you need to stay comfy and stress-free.