The Impact of Stress on Your Sleep Quality
Stress is a developed response in both animals and humans, but unfortunately, it has some negative connotations. While stress allows animals to face dangerous and important situations, it triggers several negative effects on the human body.
In humans, stress causes the autonomic nervous system or ANS to release hormones, including cortisol and adrenaline. Both of these hormones increase the heart rate to circulate blood to important organs and muscles of the body. This mechanism prepares the body to take immediate action, which is called the flight or fight response.
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However, there are many other effects of stress on our bodies as well as on our daily performance and quality of sleep. Let's delve deeper into the effects of stress on our bodies, our daily performance, and our sleep patterns.
Consequences of Stress on Performance
According to a study released, there are nearly 40 million people in America suffering from some type of sleep disorder.
This condition includes a variety of conditions and diseases, including sleep apnea, insomnia, and restless legs syndrome.
Nowadays, sleep-related disorders are on the rise, and many illnesses that people suffer from are caused by irregular sleep patterns. In addition to high blood pressure, weight gain, and depression, lack of sleep causes many health complications.
Stress can disrupt the body's hormonal balance, and can cause sleep disturbances. Normal stress levels are good for the body to motivate us to work harder and be more focused. But that was only a short-lived effect.
If stress is prolonged, it can have the opposite effect, causing problems with digestion, memory, concentration, and sleep.
When we face stressful situations, the human body releases stress hormones, especially noradrenaline, adrenaline, and cortisol. These same hormones trigger the flight or fight response in the body. Once there is no external threat, and the hormones subside, the body begins to relax again.
Sometimes, however, the body remains in the same stressful position, and this disturbance in the nervous system hurts overall health. Constant stress causes blood pressure to rise, and there is a strain on the heart and circulatory system. Breathing and heart rate are also impaired, and you are constantly hyperventilating.
Impact on Physical and Mental Health
Prolonged stress can make our muscles stiff, causing neck tension and headaches. Naturally, these results prevent us from delivering our best performance, both at work and home. Increased inflammation and high cortisol levels lead to weight gain. Poor digestion and accumulation of toxins in the body make it difficult to lose weight.
Stress also triggers emotional eating, which can lead to many other problems. It is common for people dealing with stress to experience acid reflux and heartburn. That's because the stomach produces more acid during this time.
Impact of Stress on Sleep
The interesting thing about sleep and stress is that they have a two-way relationship. Lack of sleep causes stress, and stress causes difficulty sleeping. Although this relationship is too complex, researchers are scrambling to discover the impact of stress on sleep. Let's see what scientists have discovered so far about stress and its effects on sleep.
Difficulty Sleeping: Stress can increase the time it takes to fall asleep. People with high levels of stress are more prone to insomnia, which is a common sleep disorder.
Changes in Sleep Architecture: This refers to the structure of sleep. Scientists note that stress can reduce the type of sleep or slow-wave sleep. This form of sleep is important for maintaining mental and physical health. Stress also affects REM sleep, which can decrease, or increase during stress.
Nightmares: It is common to have stressful dreams or even nightmares when you are under stress.
Because our brain regulates the endocrine system, any changes in brain activity can have an impact on our mood, reproduction, and blood sugar metabolism. That is why it is not surprising to observe that when our stress levels are high, we find it difficult to sleep.
How to Reduce Stress
If you want to improve your quality of life by reducing stress levels, here are some natural ways to relieve stress and live a healthier life.
Physical activity is one of the best stress relievers. It serves as an important tool for improving mental and physical well-being. Exercise increases the benefits of other stress-relieving actions you take to improve sleep and performance.
According to a review published in 2017, physical activity can reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety. me. research showed that exercise had a direct impact on improving sleep quality in individuals over the age of 40.
When you do exercise with high or moderate intensity, you can successfully reduce stress levels. For example, running or walking for 30 minutes can lift your spirits.
This relaxation technique is gaining popularity because it allows you to become more aware of the present. As a result, you become wise about your inner feelings and emotions. Through meditation, we can train the mind to react without being overwhelmed by emotions. The best time to practice mindfulness is before you go to bed or in the morning.
Reducing stress is challenging but not impossible. Keeping a journal can also help you identify sources of stress. While it is difficult to solve all of these problems, you can at least eliminate some of the sources that trigger stressful events.
Here are some bonus tips for reducing stress and improving your daily sleep patterns and energy levels.
- switch to a healthier diet by reducing processed foods and caffeinated drinks
- reduce alcohol and caffeine intake
- don't check your email after every hour
- seek support from family and friends
Lack of sleep and stress can lead to lasting mental and physical health problems. It is important for people dealing with stress to find the best ways to reduce stress and live happier lives.