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How Stress Affects Your Sleep

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The Brain And Skin Connection

How Chronic Stress Affects Your Sleep!

Recent research has shown that your skin can perceive stress and respond to it. Stressful days may impact your psychological health and skin, which is the largest organ of your body. Your skin helps to maintain homeostasis between your internal tissues and the outside world. This includes regulation of body temperature, protection, sensory reception, and water balance. Anxiety, worry, sorrow, and pain are some of the hormonal changes that have an effect on your skin. Stress will show itself in the appearance of the skin, nails, and hair.

Your skin has a direct connection to your brain. The sense of touch, which is very important for life, is a reserve of the skin. So, in order to experience life in its fullness, you need your skin and brain to stay healthy.

When you go through a stressful event, your immune system releases the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline in reaction to perceived or real threats. Your body’s response to stressors induces brain inflammation in a bid to cope with the change. When your body is constantly under stress, this internal inflammatory response can lead to external skin conditions.

Health Issues Tied To Chronic Stress

The long-term ramifications of chronic stress can be severely damaging. The following are some of the health problems that have been linked to chronic stress:

  • Anxiety
  • Weight gain
  • Memory loss

Both acute and chronic stress have also been tied to insomnia, which is characterized by either an inability to fall asleep or having problems falling back asleep after waking up during the night.

Stressful life events are closely associated with the onset of chronic insomnia and are mediated by certain predisposing personality factors, said researchers from one study examining the stress-insomnia connection. Insomniacs, the study found, tend to be more discontent as both children and adults, while also showing inadequate coping mechanisms for dealing with stress. In other words: traumatic events can contribute to insomnia, and at the same time, people who exhibit an inability to manage stressful situations are more vulnerable to developing insomnia.

Sleep Increases Sex Drive

Men and women who don’t get enough quality sleep experience a loss of libido and less of an interest in sex, research suggests.

Men who suffer from sleep apnoea a disorder in which breathing difficulties lead to interrupted sleep also tend to have lower testosterone levels, which can lower libido.

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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.

Try Some Natural Relaxation And Wellness Techniques

How Stress Can Affect Your Sleep

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:

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Lack Of Sleep Impacts Skin Health

A good nights sleep is important for overall health as sleep is important for the growth and renewal of our bodys cells and organ systems.

Even one bad nights sleep can play havoc with your skin. A study in which 40 observers were asked to rate 20 facial photographs for tiredness, facial cues and sadness.

The faces they were asked to rate were those who had slept normally or those who had a sleep-deprived night following only five hours sleep. The faces of sleep-deprived people were perceived as having more hanging eyelids, redder eyes, more swollen eyes, paler skin, more wrinkles/fine lines and more droopy corners to the mouth.

;Another study involving 25 participants photographed after 2 days of sleep deprivation and their photographs rated by 122 people showed that sleep-deprived individuals were rated as less attractive, less healthy and sleepier.

Facial communication is important in everyday life so these signs of sleep deprivation can have important impacts on work and social life. In this study, the raters of the photographs said they would be less inclined to interact with sleep-deprived individuals.

;Poor sleep can also impact on skin health and function causing premature ageing of the skin. A study in good sleepers and poor sleepers found that trans-epidermal water loss , a measure to assess skin barrier function was higher in poor sleepers than good sleepers.

Stress And Sleep Apnea

Though stress cannot cause sleep apnea, there is a connection between the two that can worsen the sleep deficit cycle. When you have sleep apnea, your body sends a signal to your body to wake up abruptly due to a lack of oxygen. This not only prevents you from getting a good nights sleep , but it also increases your overall stress levels and can lead to anxiety. Anxiety can then lead to depression, high blood pressure, and a number of other mental and physical disorders.

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The Link Between Stress And Sleep

Stress has many negative connotations, but it is a response that has evolved in humans and animals to allow them to deal with important or dangerous situations.

In humans, stress can cause the autonomic nervous system to release hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones raise the heart rate to circulate blood to vital organs and muscles more efficiently, preparing the body to take immediate action if necessary.

This reaction is known as the fight-or-flight response, and it was vital for human survival during the earlier stages of evolution.

Nowadays, issues that are not a threat to survival can trigger the fight-or-flight response. For example, problems at work or relationship difficulties.

Does Lack Of Sleep Increase Stress

Why Anxiety Affects Your Sleep… & Vice Versa (& How to Cope)

The longer you go without sleep, the more frustrated you will feel. As a result, this becomes a vicious cycle of tossing and turning, which increases both stress and the chances of insomnia.Naturally, you will be tired and cranky the following day. This adds more to not just your mental health but also to your developing insomnia.

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What Are The Signs Of Stress

Common signs of stress include depression, sleep problems, tension, anxiety, work mistakes, poor concentration, and apathy. You may have physical symptoms like headaches, upset stomach, fatigue, appetite loss, and chest, neck, or back pain. If high levels of unwanted stress arent properly managed, your health and sense of well-being can suffer. So its important to learn how to manage stress.

Stress Over Lack Of Sleep

Sometimes the the connection between sleep and anxiety can be quite straight forward. One common issue for those with sleep debt is stress over the fact that theyre not getting enough sleep. Whilst worrying about not getting enough sleep and what the consequences of sleep deprivation will be, the brain remains active and may struggle to relax. This can contribute to greater difficulty in falling and staying asleep. The overall consequence is poorer sleep, and a vicious circle of sleep deprivation and anxiety about lack of sleep can develop.

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What Is The Relationship Between Anxiety And Sleep

Serious sleep disturbances, including insomnia, have long been recognized as a common symptom of anxiety disorders. People who are plagued with worry often ruminate about their concerns in bed, and this anxiety at night can keep them from falling asleep.

In fact, a state of mental hyperarousal, frequently marked by worry, has been identified as a key factor behind insomnia. People with anxiety disorders are inclined to have higher sleep reactivity, which means they are much more likely to have sleeping problems when facing stress.

Sleeping difficulties have been found for people with various types of anxiety including generalized anxiety disorder, OCD, and PTSD. In several studies, over 90% of people with PTSD associated with military combat have reported symptoms of insomnia.

Distress about falling asleep can itself complicate matters, creating a sleep anxiety that reinforces a persons sense of dread and preoccupation. These negative thoughts about going to bed, a type of anticipatory anxiety, can create challenges to healthy sleep schedules and routines.

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At the same time, strong evidence indicates that sleeping problems are not only a symptom of anxiety. Instead, sleep deprivation can instigate or worsen anxiety disorders. Researchers have found that people who are prone to anxiety are especially sensitive to the effects of insufficient sleep, which can provoke symptoms of anxiety.

How Does Stress Affect Sleep

How Stress Affects Your Sleep

Insomnia is a common sleep disorder derived from stress. Insomnia is defined as persistent difficulty with sleep onset, maintenance, consolidation, or overall quality. It occurs despite adequate time allotted for sleep on a given night and a comfortable place to sleep, and people with insomnia experience excessive daytime sleepiness, fatigue, irritability and other impairments when they are awake. Current estimates suggest 10-30% of adults live with insomnia.

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  • Problems or dissatisfaction at work
  • Divorce and other marital or family difficulties
  • The death of a loved one
  • Major illness or injury
  • Crucial life changes

Not everyone develops chronic insomnia due to constant stress, but those with anxiety disorder are at higher risk of experiencing insomnia symptoms. Additionally, changes to ones sleep schedule that occur due to life events or changes can also lead to insomnia. Once chronic insomnia takes hold, people often feel anxious about sleeping and other aspects of their lives. This increases day-to-day stress, which in turn exacerbates insomnia symptoms.

Other daytime impairments related to insomnia that can bring about or contribute to stress include:

If someone experiences insomnia symptoms for fewer than three months, then this condition is referred to as short-term insomnia. Just as chronic stress can precipitate chronic insomnia, acute stressors can bring about short-term insomnia symptoms. These stressors may include:

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Existing Mental Health Problems

Mental health problems such as stress, depression or anxiety can make it harder to sleep.

Depression can make it more difficult to cope. You may over-sleep to avoid daily tasks. This can make it harder to sleep at night.

If you’re feeling stressed or anxious, you may be more prone to disturbed sleep or nightmares.

Some medication may cause sleep disturbances.

It is important to let your GP know if your medication keeps you awake or makes you too sleepy.

How Stress Impacts The Body And Leads To Poor Sleep

The human body simply isnt designed to get great sleep while stressed and theres a biological explanation for this.

When youre dealing with stress, the body releases more hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, the main stress hormone. At the same time, more sugar, or glucose, enters the bloodstream, which leads to a spike in blood pressure.

Soon after, your body is functioning at an accelerated rate due to stress. Your heart is pumping, your muscles tense up, and your mind is racing. This reaction is better known as the fight or flight response, which is an innate survival instinct that kicks in when were facing danger.

That reaction is what often derails quality sleep. The human body is hardwired to stay awake when stressed; its a response that kept our ancestors alive thousands of years ago when dealing with threats, whether from animals or rival tribes.

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Getting Better Sleep Is Easier Than You Might Think

Stressed out yet? Dont be. Stress is a serious thing, but there are a lot of ways to update your sleep patterns and reduce it.

Start with getting enough sleep. Doctors suggest that average adults get between seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Make sure youre keeping your body in a scheduled nightly routine that includes adequate hours for sleep. Dont be afraid to adjust your bedtime if needed, just be sure to transition slowly: about 10-15 minutes every day.

Then, make sure your bedroom is set up for successful sleep. Your bed should be composed of a sturdy, quiet box spring, and foam mattress topped with pillows made of adaptive, but supportive material. Dark and heavy curtains will also help keep out distracting noise and lights, no matter what time of day you sleep.

Lastly, consider exercising in the morning or early evening. Additional physical work tires your body out and forces it to crave the restorative benefits of sleep. Just make sure your exercise isnt too close to bedtime, as it can increase your heart rate for about an hour afterwards, which makes it more difficult to fall asleep.

Sleep and stress go hand in hand. A stressed-out mind can keep you up into all hours of the night, and a lack of sleep can raise anxiety levels. Make sure you balance your sleep schedule in order to reduce stress and look after your health.

Keeping Your Skin Stress Free

How Sleep and Stress Affects your Ageing

Stress is a common reaction to anxiety, and you may require assistance in taking care of yourself and your skin. To give your skin a fresh start, you must adopt positive tactics that will help you improve your general skin health:

Moisturize. When you go outdoors, use a moisturizer frequently.

Hydrate. Keep your body hydrated and your skin supple by drinking plenty of water. You will have fewer creases, wrinkles, and symptoms of premature aging if you stay hydrated. Water helps your skin stay healthy by removing toxins from your body.

Find skin care. If your skin is oily and acne-prone, consult a dermatologist. The specialist may prescribe medications to unclog pores and reduce oil production in the skin.

Learn ways to reduce stress. Be sure to unwind each day, and make an effort to maintain a social life with friends. Routinely exercise, go for a walk, or buy something that will distract you from your worry. Follow a sleep routine, sleep without lights, and wake up at the same time every day.

Protect your skin from UV rays. Avoid exposing your skin to too much sunlight. Also, avoid exercising when its too hot outside.

Mind your diet. Consult your doctor on any diet changes you are considering before actually going ahead with them.

Take care with skincare products. Avoid using skin products that are not approved by a dermatologist. If youre unsure about a product for your skin, consult your doctor first.

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Use Massage Therapy To Relax Your Muscles

You can also invest in products that are specifically designed to alleviate muscle tension. Massage mats, massage chairs, and massage guns are all great tools to help your body stay relaxed. Massage guns, in particular, are great for working out hard-to-reach knots and can help target tight clusters of nerves throughout your body. This helps your body relax and release stress hormones which will help provide you with a better nights sleep

How Poor Sleep Can Affect Cortisol Levels

Its a hot topic in sleep research: the relationship between cortisol and the quality and patterns of sleep. Ive been talking about cortisol for a while, but Ive never devoted a standalone article to this important topic. Its time to correct that.

Today, Ill talk about the role that cortisol plays in the sleep-wake cycle, how disruptions to healthy cortisol levels interfere with sleep and contribute to sleep disordersand how poor sleep, in turn, negatively affects cortisol. Ill also discuss ways to encourage healthy cortisol levels, for the benefit of your sleep and broader health.

What does cortisol do?

Cortisol is a stimulating, alerting hormone. Its the bodys primary stress hormonethats the role that gets cortisol most of its attention. Urged on by a complex network that incorporates elements of the central nervous system and the adrenal system, cortisol drives the bodys fight-or-flight response in the presence of a threat or stressor.

But cortisol does more than spur fight-or-flight. This hormone has a number of other functions, including:

  • Regulating blood pressure
  • Contributing to the cardiac system function
  • Helping to control the sleep-wake cycle

When cortisol is elevated too frequently and over long periods of time, it can cause a number of health problems. They include:

The cortisol rhythm and sleep

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Sleep And Mental Health

Mental health clinicians traditionally viewed sleep disorders as a symptom of a psychiatric disorder, but research suggests that in some patients sleep issues may be a cause of the disorder.

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  • Research health conditions

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Does Sleep Help Stress

How Does Stress Affect Your Sleep?

Getting enough sleep on a nightly basis can alleviate stress quite effectively. Unfortunately, a good nights rest can be elusive if youre stressed out especially if sleep problems are a major source of your day-to-day anxieties.

There are other measures you can take to relieve stress. These include regularly exercising and maintaining a healthy support network of friends and family. However, keeping stress at bay often demands adequate sleep. National Sleep Foundation guidelines advise that healthy adults should sleep between seven and nine hours each night.

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