How Sleep Can Affect Stress
High-quality sleep can have a hugely positive impact on our health, including a decreased risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. It can even boost your mood and cleanse your skin. One of the most impactful benefits, however, is the effect it can have on stress levels.
While some stress is natural, too much of it can be detrimental to your health. Some stress can be caused by different internal and environmental factors, but it is largely impacted by how much sleep you get, or dont get. With a growing number of overly-stressed adults, getting enough sleep has become an increasingly important and healthy lifestyle choice. Here are some of the ways that sleep can affect your stress levels, and how to make sure youre consistently a good nights rest.
Keep Your Sleep Habits In Check
After you’ve recovered from your Night Of No Sleep, keep an eye on your overall sleep habits. Dr. Winter says, “Seven to nine hours is recommended for college students,” but stresses that everyone is different. Not surprisingly, consolidated sleep is more beneficial than incremental sleep. “Think of sleep like a concert. If Coldplay kept stopping during their songs and taking breaks, while they may have technically played every note, the breaks would disrupt the necessary flow. Sleep is similar.”
Avoid all-nighters when you can, but know that a seemingly endless night will not kill you. Just check that you are getting enough sleep overall so you can avoid the risks of chronic sleep deprivation.
Create An Environment Conducive To Sleep
Having a respite that feels cozy, relaxed, and peaceful can help you drift off at the end of the day. Making your bedroom feel like a zen sanctuary rather than a deposit for dirty clothes could help your attitude around going to bed. Accessories like a sleep mask or black-out curtains can help with your sleep-wake cycle, letting your head know it’s nighttime and time for rest.
While many individuals feel tired when they’re warm, being too hot can make you feel uncomfortable and unable to sleep. Cool temperatures can help create a good sleep environment, so installing a bedroom fan or opening a window could help as well.
Many of us have begun working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and if you’ve set up shop inside your bedroom, this may create confusion for our brains in regards to where we’re meant to sleep and where we’re meant to work. While not always possible, if you can, try and build some separation between your workstation and your sleeping quarters using a partition, plants, or furniture.
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Relax Turn Off Your Phone And Go To Sleep
As a child, I was a terrible sleeper. My parents would often find me awake at 3 AM with a flashlight under the covers reading a Hardy Boy, Nancy Drew, or Tom Swift book. When I was 9-years-old, my pediatrician prescribed an awful tasting medicine to be taken at night, mixed with pineapple juice to mask the flavor. Years later, I found out that the medicine was actually a heavy duty narcotic, sometimes called a Mickey Finn. Needless to say, I was just never a good sleeper. In my adult years, I often explained away my sleeping habits by swearing that 4-5 hours of sleep a night was all I needed.
My colleagues and I at California State University, Dominguez Hills, conducted sleep research that stems from my labs work on the psychology of technology, where we have discovered two important variables that encourage us to use technology, thereby losing sleep: poor executive functioning, which includes our ability to pay attention, problem solve, control our impulses, and make decisions, and anxiety. In our work, anxiety is sometimes referred to as FOMO, or the fear of missing out. We see this anxiety in the majority of smartphone users who feel uncomfortable if they are not in direct contact with their phones and their many electronic connections 24/7/365. A dead battery and no charger can bring upon a panic attack.
So how do you reduce your nighttime anxiety and permit your brain to sleep effectively? Here are some suggestions:
The Effects Of Sleep Deprivation
While it may seem like losing sleep isnt such a big deal, sleep deprivation has a wide range of negative effects that go way beyond daytime drowsiness. Over time, the effects of sleep deprivation can mount up, taking a toll on many different aspects of your body and mind.
The effects include:
Changes in energy. Feeling fatigued, lethargic, and lacking motivation in your work, school, and home life. You may crave sugar, caffeine, or naps throughout the day.
Mental health problems. Sleep deprivation can cause moodiness and irritability, increase your risk of depression and anxiety, and affect your ability to cope with stress or manage difficult emotions. In extreme cases, sleep deprivation can even cause hallucinations and delirium.
Weakened immune system. You may be more prone to frequent colds, infections, or respiratory diseases.
Impaired brain activity, including learning, concentration, and memory problems. Lack of sleep can reduce creativity and problem-solving skills, and affect your judgment, coordination, and reaction times. In fact, sleep deprivation can impair your motor skills just as much as being drunk, increasing your risk for accidents.
Impacting the cardiovascular system. Missing out on sleep can trigger harmful inflammation and raise your blood pressure and blood sugar levels, increasing your risk for heart disease.
Changes in appearance, including premature skin aging and weight gain.
How sleep deprivation can add to your waistline
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Tips For Reducing Stress At Bedtime
Occasional stress at bedtime is inevitable. Having a plan for coping with stress can help you prevent stress from interfering with your sleep. Here are tips for learning to recognize the signs of stress and combating stress at bedtime:
Although stress can certainly interfere with getting a good nights sleep, it doesnt have to take control of your life. Understanding the bodys stress response and making a plan for managing stress can help you regain control and improve your rest.
Tests And Major Exams
Most students fail or struggle at school not because they dont have what it takes to succeed academically. The main reason is the wrong study techniques they employ.
Most students do study their lessons when the exam is fast approaching. As a result, they tend to squeeze time to accomplish everything needed to be done. So they end up cramming.
Unfortunately, cramming or multitasking is futile. The reason being is that the brain cannot process multiple information at a single point in time. If you cram, it is most likely that you dont perform well in the test. It only triggers stress.
Exams are indeed stressful. But if you are wise enough, you can beat the stress by implementing effective study strategies. You can read my book and learn the best ways to study less and succeed more in school. Become a straight-A student while studying less.
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What Health Conditions Are Linked To A Lack Of Sleep
Adults who sleep less than 7 hours each night are more likely to say they have had health problems, including heart attack, asthma, and depression.3 Some of these health problems raise the risk for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. These health problems include:
- High blood pressure. During normal sleep, your blood pressure goes down. Having sleep problems means your blood pressure stays higher for a longer period of time.4 High blood pressure is one of the leading risks for heart disease and stroke. About 75 million Americans1 in 3 adultshave high blood pressure.5
- Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is a disease that causes sugar to build up in your blood, a condition that can damage your blood vessels. Some studies show that getting enough good sleep may help people improve blood sugar control.6
- Obesity. Lack of sleep can lead to unhealthy weight gain. This is especially true for children and adolescents, who need more sleep than adults. Not getting enough sleep may affect a part of the brain that controls hunger.6
How Does Sleep Affect Your Heart Health
Getting good sleep isnt just important for your energy levelsits critical for your heart health, too. Learn how sleep is connected to heart health.
Sleep is not a luxury. It is critical to good health. Sleep helps your body repair itself. Getting enough good sleep also helps you function normally during the day.
Get enough sleep. Most adults need at least 7 hours of sleep each night.1
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Try Some Natural Relaxation And Wellness Techniques
Meditation, yoga and other relaxation techniques have all proved effective for stress and sleep disorders. There are plenty of guided meditations and yoga routines geared specifically to those with problems sleeping.
Take some time out of your busy day to wind down at the end of it.Even if you have only 10 minutes for a short meditation before you go to bed, you may see a positive result.
You dont need any special skills or to follow any religious dogma, so give it a try. No time? Fall asleep to music or nature sounds geared especially for deep sleep. Here are a few of our favourites:
How Can Mental Health Problems Affect Sleep
Mental health problems can affect your sleep in different ways.
- Anxiety can cause your thoughts to race, which can make it hard to sleep.
- Depression can lead to oversleeping: either sleeping late or sleeping a lot during the day. It can also cause insomnia if you have troubling thoughts.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder can cause nightmares or night terrors. These may wake you up and/or make you feel anxious about falling asleep.
- Mania can make you feel elated or energetic so you might not feel tired or want to sleep. You may also have racing thoughts that make it hard to sleep.
- Medication can have side effects including insomnia, nightmares or oversleeping. Coming off medication can also cause sleep problems.
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What Tests Help Confirm A Sleep Anxiety Diagnosis
In some cases, your provider may do a sleep study to find out if you have a sleep disorder. Also called polysomnography, a sleep study is a test where you stay overnight in a sleep lab. Your healthcare provider evaluates how your body works during sleep by checking your:
- Blood oxygen levels.
- Snoring or other noises you make during sleep.
How Your Sleep Habits Affect Your Health
Sleep restores and renews the body and mind, but your sleep habits may affect both the quality of rest you get and your overall health. While a supportive bed, like a latex mattress, is important for comfort, our habits and personalities may play an even a bigger role in sleep quality.
Certain positions predispose sleepers to wrinkle and snoring, while age, employment, and gender can offer insights into potential issues. Keep reading to learn how your preferred sleep positions, daytime habits, and personalities directly influence sleep and health and yes, this is something that has been proven throughout our history.
Effects of Sleep Positions
How we sleep varies depending on personal preference, health, bed comfort, partners, and more. Because we spend several hours in the same position at night, it is important to understand how this may affect health. The four primary sleep positions each offer pros and cons depending on your situation, but overall experts consider back and side sleep preferable to fetal and stomach positions.
- Exacerbates snoring
- Not recommended during pregnancy
- May reduce acid reflux symptoms
- May lead to premature wrinkling/sagging
- Arm, shoulder, and hip pain
- May reduce acid reflux symptoms
- May reduce snoring
- Can offer comfort during pregnancy
- Can exacerbate joint pain, bad posture
- May restrict deep breathing
- May lead to premature wrinkling
Common Sleep Issues
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Stress Negatively Affects Grades
Because a stressed student wont be able to concentrate on school activities, there is a high possibility that s/he may drop out of school. In the American College Health Association National College Health Assessment report alone in 2010, there was 25 percent of students who suffered from having a decreased in their grades. Those students also had difficulties to finish their courses.
These are just a few of the negative effects of stress on students. When I was a student though, I only experienced the effect mentioned above . It was because, unlike the majority of students, I had my own approach to deal with academic stress.
As a student, you have some sort of freedom to direct your own life inside the campus. One of the biggest parts of such freedom is to figure out how youre going to approach scholastic challenges. Fortunately, you have a good chance to successfully overcome stress.
Time management is what most students need. Finishing your projects or papers ahead of time can make your school life easier. You need to weigh your priorities. Do not waste your time. Schedule everything.
How To Calm Anxiety And Get Better Sleep
Although the impacts of anxiety disorders can be substantial, they are one of the most treatable mental health disorders. This doesnt mean that reducing anxiety is always simple, but there are treatments that can help.
Any person who has persistent or significant anxiety and/or sleeping problems should talk with a doctor who can best assess their situation and discuss the benefits and downsides of the potential treatment options in their case.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is a common treatment for anxiety disorders. It is a type of talk therapy that works to reorient negative thinking, and it has had success in decreasing anxiety. Studies have found that CBT can often reduce anxiety even in people who have insomnia. Addressing anxiety can pave the way for better sleep, but severe cases of insomnia may persist after CBT for anxiety. CBT for insomnia may be a useful next step in these cases.
Several different types of medications are approved to treat anxiety disorders including anti-anxiety drugs, antidepressants, and beta-blockers. These medications are intended to mitigate symptoms rather than cure the underlying anxiety.
Because of the multifaceted relationship between anxiety and sleep, getting better rest may help combat feelings of anxiety. Building healthy sleep habits can make going to bed a more pleasant experience and facilitate a consistent routine to enhance sleep.
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How Your Sleeping Habits Can Impact Your Hormones
Did you know that your sleeping habits can actually impact your hormones? As the afternoon rolls around and evening approaches, cortisol is at its highest levels. Cortisol is an extremely important hormone in our bodies because it helps us to maintain balance during times of stress. Unfortunately, when we are exposed to stressful situations on a daily basis , cortisol remains elevated for too long and causes hormonal imbalances like estrogen dominance and adrenal fatigue.
You probably already know that sleep deprivation can affect how we feel each day, but what you might not realize is that theres more to it than just feeling tired. In fact, lack of sleep affects the levels of various hormones including testosterone, cortisol, growth hormone, estrogen, and progesterone. Here are the top reasons why you need to prioritize sleep:
How Cultural Pressures May Affect Your Sleep Habits
06 May 2016
Our biological clocks may not dictate our bedtimes, but they do influence when we wake up in the morning, a new study finds.
Cultural pressures and daily responsibilities may override our biological clocks and dictate when we go to sleep, according to the study, published today in the journal Science Advances.
However, people’s wake-up times are still highly dependent on their biological clocks, as opposed to just on their morning responsibilities, such as going to work or school, the researchers said.
The new findings show that “bedtime is more under the control of society, and wake time is more under the control of the clock,” Olivia Walch, a graduate student at the University of Michigan and a co-author of the study, told Live Science.
In the study, the researchers looked at sleep data from more than 8,000 people in 100 countries who used a smartphone app that helps travelers adjust to new time zones. To use the app, you enter your typical sleep schedule, as well as the times when you are normally exposed to light. Using this information, the app suggests custom schedules of light and darkness to help you adjust to a new time zone. In other words, the app suggests that you be exposed to bright light at one point during the day and to darkness at another point.
The researchers saw that countries that are geographically and culturally close to each other, such as Japan and Singapore, tended to have similar sleep patterns.
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Stress Management Sleep Strategies
If your sleep problems are being compounded by the effects of stress, sleep may come easier with the implementation of healthy stress management techniques before bed. Coping with stress takes many forms, and can involve emotional engagement or emotional disengagement.
Notably, one study found that strategies that reduce emotional avoidance and enhance emotional awareness are helpful for reducing the impact of stress on sleep onset latency, while strategies that increase avoidance, such as alcohol use, can lead to longer sleep delays.
Healthy coping strategies that reduce emotional avoidance include meditation and simple breathing exercises, which can reduce stress and tension in the body, lower stress hormone levels, and help sleep come more easily.
Problem-solving can also be a way to reduce stress, but it can be stimulating and should be done earlier in the day rather than before bed.
It is important to leave enough time for stress management and also enough time for sleep itself. Educate yourself about additional stress management sleep strategies and read more about the benefits of a good night’s sleep to inspire you to figure out a plan to create space in your busy life to reduce your stress before bed.