Stress and Sleep
Stress is a response to challenging circumstance that we are in, it is also a response to things that happened in our daily life. Everything that happened be it in our daily life or not (happened to someone else) can somehow affect us emotionally, physically, and behaviorally. Stress is not all bad, the right amount of stress will act as a precursor to helps us to do our best, to keep us alert and energetic. However, too much of stress can make us tense, anxious and hinder our sleep quality (1,2).
What is making you stress might not make others stress and vice versa. When it comes to stress there are just no standard parameters to measure. Since the amount of stress that perceive by individuals differ from one another though it is stemming from the same source of stress (1,2,3).
Stress induce multiple body reactions, such as in our brain, nervous system, endocrine system (hormone), and immune system. Research called it ‘hyperarousal’ where it is a state when our body in the stress state. Which in another words our brain perceives the condition as on alert (1,2,4).
The signs of hyperarousal state include you cannot shut down your busy mind. Your mind seems to have no shut down button. It keeps going over and over your stress, worries, and frustrations contemplating from various angles. Which is also one of the reasons that hinder you from getting enough quality sleep. Secondly, when you are experiencing muscle tense for no reasons. It can be aches in areas such as neck, shoulder, or constant headache. Thirdly, is when you are experiencing heart race. This is particularly associated with the hormone cortisol (a stress hormone). This will then result in the condition where your body and brain are wide awake thus the condition is not conducive for you to fall asleep thus explain individuals who is stress experience sleep disturbance. (1)
It is unfair to discuss in the area that stress cause sleep disturbance only without noting that, there are condition which will makes individuals who experience stress sleep excessively as well. It is somewhat mystery to experts as well, though it is hypothesized due to different kind of stress that experience by individuals and again different coping mechanism developed by individuals in adapting to different stressors (3).
What to do (4)?
Fortunately, there are habits in which if you cultivate it diligently, it will train your mind to ease the stress and helps you to sleep. First, practice relaxation exercise such as progressive muscle relaxation or deep breathing technique before turning in for the night. This technique can help you to unwind. It will help your body and mind to dial down the stress. It is also wise to actually have a relaxing pre-sleep rituals, such as change to your comfortable clothing for sleep, dim your bedroom light, be in the comfortable situation, take a warm bath or drink a cup of warm water or milk, avoid caffeinated drinks like soda, tea and coffee in the late afternoon, slowly nesting yourself.
Of course, this is not tips that will work for everybody, anyhow you just got to trial and error. You just got to give it a try and adjust it accordingly so that it will suit your condition better.
Lastly, if you have anything in your mind that is stressing you out, think of it as that is just the phase that you have to endure. Whatever situation that you are in, you know it better than anyone else, since you have the key to get yourself out of that condition. You are the master control of it, soon you will be out of this, think of positive thoughts and try to talk to someone you trust. If you think your condition is worsening its maybe a sign for you to seek medical help.
- Sleep Foundation.org. National Sleep Foundation. Stress and Insomnia (July 2020). https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/stress-and-insomnia (Accessed on September 20, 2020).
- Sleep Foundation.org. National Sleep Foundation. Relaxation Exercises for Falling Asleep (July 2020). https://www.sleepfoundation.org/shift-work-disorder/shift-work-you/relaxation-exercises-falling-asleep (Accessed on September 20, 2020).
- Kim, E. J., & Dimsdale, J. E. (2007). The effect of psychosocial stress on sleep: a review of polysomnographic evidence. Behavioral sleep medicine, 5(4), 256-278.
- Tips to reduce stress and Sleep better (2019). https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/tips-reduce-stress (Accessed on September 20, 2020).