Stress and Sleep
Stress and sleep problems often occur together. When this happens it can be hard to know how to improve sleep when you’re stressed and reduce stress when you have trouble sleeping. There are a number of reasons why stress and sleep negatively impact each other.
Fast Paced Mind
We stay so busy and occupied during the day, our mind often runs a million miles per hour just to keep up with all of our responsibilities. The stress of a fast paced life and limited time to process the day’s activities often keeps our mind moving quickly, even when it is time for our head to hit the pillow. It’s often hard to slow down and “turn our brain off” at the end of the day. This frequently makes falling asleep and staying asleep difficult.
When we are stressed our body is flooded with stress hormones to help us respond to a threat or stressor. Cortisol and adrenaline are important stress hormones and key players in keeping us alert and focused. However, these hormones can become the enemy when we are trying to relax and go to sleep. The presence of these stress hormones often disrupt an individual’s ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.
When we don’t get enough sleep or sacrifice sleep for studying, partying or other activities, consuming caffeine can become our crutch. While caffeine can temporarily help us get through the day, it is often associated with interrupting deep sleep. Low sleep quality and functioning on caffeine can make us more susceptible to stress, less effective in how we manage stress, and less capable of establishing healthy sleep patterns.
A hectic, busy life can rob you of time you can actually dedicate to sleep. If you find yourself pushing your bedtime back further and further to get things done, or getting up earlier so you can be more productive, you may not realize the toll it’s taking on your sleep and susceptibility to stress.
Anxiety can make falling asleep and staying asleep extremely difficult. Anxiety often keeps individuals in a constant state of readiness for something to happen or rehearsing for an upcoming event. As a result, anxiety can rob you of sleep by keeping stress hormones at a high level and making quality sleep much harder to achieve.
There are a number of strategies you can use to help you become more relaxed before you go to sleep.
Go to www.uhs.uga.edu/sleep/sleep-matters, for much more information on increasing healthy sleep behaviors.
References and Resources