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How Does Sleep Reduce Stress

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How Reducing Stress Improves Sleep Quality

COVE Review: Does it Improve Sleep & Reduce Stress?

You might think that getting better sleep will reduce stress, but being stressed can actually inhibit your ability to fall and stay asleep. It can negatively affect your overall mental, physical, and psychological health, and can cause insomnia, which puts even more stress on the body. Sleep deprivation linked to stress can put you at risk of health and behavior problems.

What Is The Purpose Of Stress

Before we can dive into the purpose that stress serves, we first need to understand what it is. Waiting for medical test results can be stressful, planning a wedding can be stressful, and living amid a world disaster can be stressful. If I were to ask you what stress feels like, your response would likely be different from my or anyone elses.

According to the American Institute of Stress, the term was coined by scientist Hans Selye in 1936 and was defined as the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change. Selye began conducting animal experiments and noticed that animals subjected to stressful situations developed short term symptoms like stomach ulcers, enlarged adrenals , and shrinkage of lymphoid tissue . Even more startling, he discovered that the stressed animals went on to develop various diseases, including arthritis, heart attacks, stroke, and kidney disease.

The term stressor was also introduced to help people understand the difference between a stimulus and the response. But is all stress bad? Dictionaries began defining it as a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances. The original definition said it was a nonspecific response, not necessarily a negative one.

Sleep Decreases Cortisol Levels

A lack of sleep can cause the body to react as if its in distress, releasing more of the stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol is responsible for your fight or flight reaction to danger, increasing your heart rate in anticipation of a fight. Too much cortisol, however, can lead to weight gain and cardiovascular issues over time. This often occurs when poor sleeping habits prevent the body from regulating its hormone levels overnight. In fact, getting less than five hours of sleep a night has been linked to cortisol-related issues, like high blood pressure.

Getting more rest can significantly decrease cortisol levels and restore balance to the bodys systems. In a preventative step, try to get between seven to nine hours of sleep a night to avoid the rise in hormone levels altogether, and reduce existing feelings of stress and anxiety.

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Stress And Poor Health

Stress can cause other health-related problems including:

  • Jaw and tooth pain due to teeth grinding during sleep
  • Hair changes and hair loss
  • Stomach aches and intestinal problems
  • Acne
  • Recurring illness
  • Depression and anxiety

Its important to learn how to manage your stress. Here are a few tips that can ease your stress and help you get a good nights sleep.

Practice Positive Thought Management: You can learn to change the thought patterns that produce stress. How you think, what you think and what you expect from yourself and others will determine how you manage your stress levels. You may want to consider meditation, reading books or listening to audiobooks or podcasts geared toward positive affirmations, thoughts, and exercises. These practices can greatly improve your psychological well-being.

Assess Your Stress: To get a handle on your stress, you need to figure out what is causing it. Is it physical or psychological? Are you in good physical health or do you suffer from joint or muscular pain? Perhaps your stress is due to work, or youre dealing with circumstances in your personal life. Whatever the case may be, once you identify your stressors, you can take steps to reduce them.

Maintain a Healthy Diet: Junk food and refined sugars low in nutritional value and high in calories can leave you feeling out of energy and sluggish. A healthy diet, low in sugar, caffeine, and alcohol, can promote health and reduce stress.

What This Means For Your Health

5 Tips to Reduce Stress

These findings are important, Sin says, noting her previous research on how daily positive events can promote well-being. “People who tend to lose positive emotions in the face of stress are at greater risk for health problems,” she says. Conversely, she’s also found that people who get more sleep than usual are more likely to create more positive opportunities for themselves.

It’s well-established that stress and negative emotions are bad for your health, but more research is now focusing on how positive events can help protect your health. “There’s also been a lot of work that I’ve done previously showing that people who have more positive events, they tend to have lower levels of inflammation,” Sim says. “They have these healthier patterns of diurnal cortisol, so their stress hormones show a healthier pattern.”

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Good Sleep In Times Of Stress

Sep 14, 2020Cedars-Sinai Staff

Uneasy times can fuel anxiety and make getting a good night’s sleep feel impossible. And with a global pandemic, isolation, economic instability, wildfires, protests over racial inequality and an election, there’s no shortage of stressful situations to keep our minds racing at all hours.

About 41-56% of people have experienced sleep disturbances during the COVID-19 outbreak, according to recent studies in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. That’s up from pre-pandemic rates of around 14-25%.

With a global pandemic, isolation, economic instability, wildfires, protests over racial inequality and an election, there’s no shortage of stressful situations to keep our minds racing.

While sleep can be tough during difficult periods, it’s also important not to let it fall by the wayside, says Dr. Jeffrey Wertheimer, a clinical neuropsychologist at Cedars-Sinai. He talked to us about the role of sleep amid stress and how better sleep practices can help us get ahead of late nights.

Sleep Disorders And Heart Health

Many sleep disorders have detrimental effects on heart health. Insomnia, one of the most common sleep disorders, is often accompanied by insufficient sleep and can lead to elevated cardiovascular health risks.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a breathing disorder that is linked to heart disease, obesity, diabetes, stroke, and high blood pressure. People with OSA have lapses in breathing during sleep when their airway gets blocked.

Interrupted breathing from OSA causes fragmented sleep, which is one reason why the condition is tied to multiple cardiovascular problems. In addition, disturbed respiration reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood, which may worsen the impacts of OSA on heart health.

Disorders of abnormal movement during sleep, such as restless leg syndrome and periodic limb movement disorder, have also been linked to heart problems. While the exact explanation is unknown, it may relate to abnormal activation of the cardiovascular system that occurs with these conditions and induces elevated and fluctuating heart rate and blood pressure.

Circadian rhythm sleep disorders, which occur when a persons internal clock is misaligned with day and night, have been associated with cardiovascular problems. For example, people who work night shifts and have to sleep during the day have heightened risks of hypertension, obesity, and diabetes as well as cardiac events like a stroke or heart attack.

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Are You Sleep Deprived

Once you know what to look for, sleep deprivation becomes pretty apparent. For instance, if you feel thirsty, hungry, mentally foggy, or forgetful, you could be sleep deprived. The same holds true if you feel aggressive. If you feel sleepy while driving, or drowsy during the day, even during boring activities, you haven’t had enough sleep. Furthermore, if you often fall asleep within five minutes of your head hitting the pillow, you are probably suffering from severe sleep deprivation.

The Sleep You Get Is Equal To The Sleep You Give

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Getting enough sleep is up to you. How much are you willing to give yourself? Just enough to allow yourself to stagger through life? Or the full amount you need to walk with calm purpose? Keep track of your sleep habits. If you have trouble sleeping night after night, or if you feel tired day after day, you could have a sleep disorder. Talk to your primary care physician or a sleep specialist to get the support you need. Whatever the case may be, committing to healthy sleep over the long term can help reduce your anxiety.

Now, are you interested to know why the doctor tells his patients to make their bed every morning after a good night’s sleep?

It’s to demonstrate how healthy sleep makes it easier to give ourselves the little acts of kindness that can change our day and in effect, our lives.

How about giving yourself a BIG act of kindness? Sleep!

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Your Emotions Are At A Balance

Having your emotions at the right balance is very important since it will provide you with enough resources to cope with stress. Sleep will help you with reducing levels of depression and anxiety. Therefore, you are going to be less emotionally sensitive when facing some of the problems. According to a few prominent studies, it has been found out that lack of quality rest turns Amygdala into being in a heightened state that damages the emotional regulation and upsurges the level of stress and anxiety. Therefore, the conclusion is that a good nights sleep is essential for keeping your emotions at the right balance.

Are There Other Consequences For Teens For Not Getting Enough Sleep

Not getting enough sleep affects every aspect of a teenagers life:

  • Poor memory and concentration leads to poor retention and performance at school.
  • Response time is impaired and car accidents are more likely.
  • Hormones triggering poor food choices and metabolic changes cause weight gain.
  • Irritability contributes to family and/or social conflict and can lead to more serious mental health issues like depression and anxiety.
  • Immune function is lowered and risk of colds or flu is increased.
  • Acne gets worse.

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School Stress: Why Your Teen Needs A Good Nights Sleep

This article is part of a series on navigating teens stress and anxiety, a common reason for substance use. Find the full series at Stress & Drug Use: What Every Parent Should Know.

Teenagers are living life at full speed growing, learning, studying, exploding with hormones, learning to drive, gaining autonomy and coping with daily pressure and stress. It turns out that they need more sleep than adults to stay healthy and safe and cope with stress.

To learn more about why sleep is so important for teens and how parents can help them get the rest they need, we reached out to , clinical psychologist, founder of NYC Sleep Doctor and author of The Good Sleeper: The Essential Guide to Sleep for Your Baby .

How Stress Contributes To Sleep Problems

Relax ⢠Do Relax/Study/Meditate/sleep/Get Nap/Relieve ...

If youre stressed about something and constantly think about it, you will find it harder to fall asleep. Your mind is hypervigilant and even if your body needs rest, it simply cant because youre just too awake. You may also develop sleep problems like insomnia. The less you sleep, the more anxious you become, and unless you learn to deal with stress in a healthy manner, youll rack up sleep debt and set yourself up for health consequences like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

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Keeps You Emotionally Balanced

Being emotionally balanced is important as youre able to deal with stress in a more rational manner. Sleep reduces anxiety and depression by healing your system and preventing you from being emotionally sensitive. In a study, researchers found that sleep deprivation keeps the amygdala a set of neurons that processes emotions in a heightened state of activation which increases anxiety and hampers emotional regulation.

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If You’re Concerned About Your Sleep See A Doctor

Talk with a doctor or nurse if you have any of the following signs of a sleep disorder:

  • Trouble falling or staying asleep
  • Still feeling tired after a good nights sleep
  • Sleepiness during the day that makes it difficult to do everyday activities, like driving or concentrating at work
  • Frequent loud snoring
  • Pauses in breathing or gasping while sleeping
  • Tingling or crawling feelings in your legs or arms at night that feel better when you move or massage the area
  • Trouble staying awake during the day
  • Feeling like its hard to move when you first wake up

Even if you dont have these problems, talk with a doctor if you feel like you often have trouble sleeping.

Keep a sleep diary for a week and share it with your doctor. A doctor can suggest different sleep routines or medicines to treat sleep disorders. Talk with a doctor before trying over-the-counter sleep medicine.

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Insomnia And Psychological Problems

“There’s a big relationship between psychiatric and psychological problems and sleep. So people who are depressed or have anxiety often have trouble with sleep as part of those disorders,” says Dr. Lawrence Epstein, Medical Director of Sleep Health Centers and an instructor at Harvard Medical School. Difficulty sleeping is sometimes the first symptom of depression. Studies have found that 15 to 20 percent of people diagnosed with insomnia will develop major depression.2 While sleep research is still exploring the relationship between depression and sleep, studies have shown that depressed people may have abnormal sleep patterns.3Sleep problems may, in turn, contribute to psychological problems. For example, chronic insomnia may increase an individual’s risk of developing a mood disorder, such as depression or anxiety. In one major study of 10,000 adults, people with insomnia were five times more likely to develop depression.4 Lack of sleep can be an even greater risk factor for anxiety. In the same study, people with insomnia were 20 times more likely to develop panic disorder .5 Another study showed that insomnia is a reliable predictor of depression and many other psychiatric disorders, including all types of anxiety disorders.6

Look At Sleep From A Global Health Standpoint

Can better sleep reduce your stress?

We often take sleep for granted until we can’t seem to get it, but we should be practicing healthy sleep habits long before we hit the pillow.

Because of how intertwined sleep is with other aspects of health, it’s important to focus on wellness and lifestyle factors when trying to improve it, Dr. Wertheimer says.

A healthy diet and exercise encourages better sleep. And meditation, calming music, guided relaxation, self-reflection and deep breathing techniques can boost mental health.

For example, a healthy diet and exercise encourages better sleep. And mindfulness boosts mental health. That includes meditation, calming music, guided relaxation, self-reflection and deep breathing techniques. Even just breathing in and out in a slow, controlled fashion will help calm you down, he says.

Smoking and drinking more alcohol might be tempting to help take the edge off, but they actually disturb sleep.

Consistent sleep hygiene can facilitate better, deeper sleep

The key to a good night’s sleep is routine, Dr. Wertheimer says.

He recommends going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, regardless of how much sleep you’ve managed to get the night before. Avoid napping during the day.

And go outside regularly if possible: Sunlight helps strengthen the circadian rhythms that regulate your sleep-wake cycle.

The key to a good night’s sleep is routine.

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Repeating Good Sleep Habits

The act of relieving yourself of enough stress in order to sleep well is not always an easy one. It is full of the kind of trial-and-error that can lead to lifelong self-discovery. Some people have no idea where to start this process because they have never connected the stress element to their own lack of sleep. Many attribute chronic sleeplessness to noisy neighbors, bedroom or household distractions or their own unique sleep avoiding bodily functions. Typically, none of these is the real culprit.

Until you make a proactive decision to discover your own natural sleep rhythm and eliminate stress from the equation, you may be in a sleepless rut for years. In fact, for some, stress leads to chronic insomnia. This brave choice you can make to change, and maybe even extend, your own life will have positive repercussions far into your future. For many, this choice can change the quality of their lives. They are less irritable, suffer less from depression and fatigue and find themselves enjoying their life successes more.

There are some who will endure the honest process of eliminating stress and still manage not to change their lives. Often this happens because they dont change their behaviors even after they have a solid plan to eliminate the stress and sleep better. These people are sometimes addicted to the stress. They wonder what they would do without it and are content staying sleepless.

Can Sleep Reduce Stress

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We all know that sleep is extremely important. But can sleep reduce stress? Is it a key factor in mental health? The answer is simple: Yes, sleep reduces stress. It improves symptoms of anxiety and depression and it helps us regulate our emotional response.

In order to understand how sleep can reduce stress, we must look at what stress is, and what influence it has on us.

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