How Does Stress Impact Sleep?
Continuous stress can impact your sleep and can further lead to sleep disorders. If you are unable to get proper sleep due to stress, come to Koala® Centers For Sleep & TMJ Disorders and talk to our providers. For more information, call us or visit us online to book an appointment. We have convenient locations across the U.S. in Bloomington IL, Peoria/Dunlap IL, Lafayette IN, Mishawaka IN, Kansas City MO, El Paso TX and Wausau WI.
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Sleep is one of the most fundamental and important functions; adequate, quality sleep contributes to a healthy lifestyle and to a better overall quality of life. It is a means to refresh our bodies, mind, and spirit, and after a long and tiring day, nothing is more appealing than a good night’s rest. It also helps us regulate our emotions and thoughts, and helps us remember important things we have learned. However, there are several things that can interfere with our quality of sleep; one of the biggest culprits is stress, which can have several effects on the body and the ability to sleep.
Stress and sleep have a reciprocal relationship. High levels of stress can contribute to trouble sleeping, and poor quality or insufficient sleep can lead to increased levels of stress and a lowered ability to handle stressful situations. While this cycle of somber slumber can be hard to escape, understanding the connection between stress and sleep is the first step to breaking this frustrating loop.
Chronic stress causes dysregulation of the sleep-wake cycle; also known as circadian rhythm, this is the body’s internal clock that tells the body when it is time to sleep and when it is time to be alert. When people experience stress during the day, in addition to reporting poor sleep quality the same night, they are more likely to have trouble falling asleep as well. Stress may reduce rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and deep sleep, both of these sleep stages are vital for mental and physical health.
Short-term insomnia can develop as a response to a stressful event; the body is unable to sleep as a natural reaction to a potential threat. The fight-or-flight response enacts immediate physiological changes that may make it hard to sleep, including muscle tension; elevated heart rate; and digestive system effects, including upset stomach, diarrhea, or constipation. All of these symptoms interfere with the ability to have sound sleep and can strain an individual’s sleep schedule if it recurs. The good news is that finding ways to cope with stress may reduce the negative effects of stress on sleep, even for those with high-stress lifestyles.
Insomnia, a sleep disorder characterized by lack of sleep, is a common sleep problem; stress is one of its biggest causes, and is inherently linked with the condition. Not everyone develops chronic insomnia due to constant stress, however people who are living with anxiety disorder are at higher risk of experiencing insomnia and its related symptoms. Chronic insomnia often causes feelings of anxiety about sleeping, which in turn increases day-to-day stress, further exacerbating insomnia symptoms.
Short-term insomnia is diagnosed when someone experiences insomnia symptoms for fewer than three months. Just as chronic stress can bring about chronic insomnia, acute stressors can trigger short-term insomnia symptoms. Common stressors of short-term insomnia include:
– Interpersonal relationship issues
– Work-related problems
– Financial loss
– Grieving and bereavement
– Diagnosis of a disease or other condition
While everyone experiences stress differently, some symptoms are more common than others, especially in regard to excessive stress. These include:
– Chronic Pain
– Frequent Sickness
– Decreased Energy and Insomnia
– Changes in Libido
– Digestive Issues
– Appetite Changes
– Rapid Heartbeat
Stress makes it hard to think straight and handle things appropriately; problems can quickly spiral out of control when it starts interfering with quality of sleep. Tips that can help reduce stress and improve quality of sleep include:
– Know What Causes Stress
– Use Your Problem Solving Skills
– Plan Your Next Day Before Going to Sleep
– Improve Your Bedroom Environment
– Have a Bedtime Routine
– Say No to Caffeine
– Practice Breathing Exercises
– Stay Away from Electronic Devices
– Make Use of Alternative Therapies
Stress can take a toll on your quality of sleep, and the sleep team at Koala® Centers For Sleep & TMJ Disorders are here to help. Call us today to book an appointment to learn how to reduce your levels of stress and improve your quality of sleep, or visit one of our locations.