We all go through stress at one point or another through out the day. Whether it's brought upon us by our jobs, personal lives or simply a bad traffic jam. Stress is an inevitable part of life, but if we let it consume us, it can take a serious toll on your daily life — especially when it comes to sleep.
Stress has a special way of keeping us awake at night, and those restless hours spent tossing, and turning can add up. While there isn’t any magical number of zzz’s we should log per night—experts estimate anywhere from seven to nine hours—research suggests that most Americans would be happier with an hour or more of extra sleep per night. According to the American Psychological Association’s Stress in America survey, 50 percent of adults report feeling sleeping, lazy or sluggish after a night of little sleep.
Here are five ways stress prevents us from getting adequate sleep, and how to prevent it.
Stress not only steals hours of our sleep, but it can affect the quality of the little sleep we get. When we’re stressed, we experience little sleep, and the sleep we do experience is usually of fair or poor quality.
Stress can rob you of your sleeping time entirely, as those who experience ongoing stress are more susceptible to developing insomnia. Each stressor increases your risk for developing the disorder, which can lead to serious health issues if left untreated.
When you lay down to sleep your body switches to a parasympathetic nervous system —a calmer system— and shuts down its active, sympathetic nervous system. However, when we’re stressed, the active system doesn’t shut down, and the brain remains in a hyperactive state. This leaves you wide awake, and unable to fall asleep, robbing you of the precious hours of sleep you need.
Cycle of Sleeplessness
If you leave your stress unattended, it can become fuel for a cycle of vicious sleepless nights. You become stressed which can cause insomnia. Most people who experience insomnia as a result of stress say that the added stress of losing sleep causes further damage to their health and psyche.
So, how do you stop your stress from ruining your shut-eye? Try some of these tricks!
Whether you do a few yoga poses, active relaxation or full blown meditation, practicing a few calming exercises
before sleep can help you to quiet your mind, eliminate stress and drift off to sleep.
Sometimes, writing down your thoughts can help you to reduce your stress. Keep a pen and paper by your bed to write down what you’re feeling. Some research shows that even physically throwing away what you’ve written can help to better clear your mind of negative, stressful thoughts. A clear mind is a mind more prepared for quality sleep.
Try developing a night-time breathing routine to practice just before you nod off each night. Try breathing in for ten seconds, pause, then breathe out for ten seconds. Inhalation and exhalation can activate the body’s naturally calming parasympathetic system.
See a Sleep Specialist
If nothing else works, you should seek help from a medical professional. A therapist can help you to sort through your stress and teach you techniques to address your anxiety and related sleep issues.