Excessive levels of work-related stress (or any stress, for that matter) can impact your sleep quality and duration. Unfortunately, both a lack of sleep and stress can have a significant impact on your mental health. Most health experts recommend that adults get seven to nine hours of sleep per night.
Improper sleep or not enough of it can impact your life in many ways. It can affect your alertness, ability to focus, sales skills and abilities, and more. While this is true, it is estimated by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) that more than 35% of adults in the U.S. get under seven hours of sleep per night. Unfortunately, if this occurs for extended periods of time, it can lead to a serious sleep deficit that causes long-lasting mental and physical health issues.
The precise role that sleep plays is still not clear; however, research has proven that it facilitates many body processes. This includes things like physical changes, including mental tasks and muscle repair.
The Ongoing Effects of Sleep Deprivation
If you do not get enough sleep consistently, it may cause low energy, a negative mood, issues concentrating, and the inability to function properly. Lack of sleep can have more severe consequences, too, like if a person is trying to operate heavy machinery (such as their vehicle) while tired.
A one-off bad night of sleep is very unlikely to cause serious harm. However, if you are dealing with ongoing, persistent sleep deprivation, it can increase the possibility of many chronic health issues. According to information from the CDC, individuals who regularly get under seven hours of sleep a night have an increased risk of obesity, kidney disease, arthritis, heart disease, depression, diabetes, and stroke. While several factors may cause these conditions, sleep deprivation causes can contribute to how quickly they develop.
The Sleep and Stress Connection
Stress comes with many negative connotations. However, it is a response that has occurred in humans and animals that allows them to handle dangerous or important situations.
In people, stress may cause the ANS – autonomic nervous system – to release hormones, like cortisol and adrenaline. These can increase your heart rate, which efficiently pumps blood to your muscles and organs, allowing your body to take immediate action if needed.
This reaction is officially called the fight-or-flight response. During the early stages of evolution, this was essential for human survival. Today, issues that do not threaten survival can cause this fight-or-flight response, too – for example, issues with your relationship or problems at your job.
Long Term Effects of Stress on the Body
It is completely normal to feel stressed from time to time. However, if you begin to experience chronic stress, it may cause your nervous system to stay in a heightened state of excitement for longer periods of time. If you are in this state, it can impact your mental and physical health now and in the future.
An effect of stress is sleep deprivation. If you are constantly in a state of heightened alertness, it may impact your ability to get to sleep and cause ongoing anxious thoughts at night. If you do not get enough sleep, this is going to cause even more stress.
According to information from the Natural Sleep Foundation, it is estimated that up to 43% of people between the ages of 13 and 64 have lied awake at night because of stress at least one time in the past 30 days.
Reduce Stress and Improve Sleep
When you reduce your stress levels during the evening, before going to bed, you can improve the quality and duration of your sleep. You can do several things and lifestyle changes you can make to help reduce your stress levels.
Mindful meditation is a relaxation technique that helps you become more aware of the present moment. The goal is to acknowledge your sensations, feelings, and thoughts both inside and outside the body but not react to them.
Some research has shown that this technique provides an array of benefits for your mental well-being. Engaging in mindfulness for about 10 to 30 minutes before you go to bed can help reduce stress and, as a result, improve your ability to sleep.
Physical exercise is extremely beneficial when it comes to improving your overall mental and physical health. According to many studies, the effects offered by physical activity on your overall psychological well-being make it a smart treatment for all types of stress-related disorders and anxiety. It also helps to reduce the need for you to pursue other kinds of treatments.
When you engage in physical activity, you can even reduce your feelings of stress and anxiety. There is even other evidence suggesting that exercise directly impacts your quality of life for people over 40 who are dealing with sleep difficulties.
By engaging in physical exercise regularly, for around 30-minutes per day, you can reduce your stress levels and improve your overall sleep quality and duration.
Additional Lifestyle Changes
Several other lifestyle changes may help you reduce your stress levels, too. For example, you should eat a healthy, well-balanced diet, reduce your alcohol and caffeine consumption, avoid taking work home with you or checking emails at night and ask for help and support from your family and friends.
It can be extremely challenging to reduce stress. However, you must take time to find the source of your stress, which for many people, is directly linked to their job or a relationship. While these problems can be hard to overcome, removing the stress source is essential if you want to get better.
Getting a Better Night’s Sleep and Saying Goodbye to Stress
While it may not be possible to eliminate all sources of stress, when you use the information here, you are taking a step in the right direction. Remember, there is a close link between sleep and stress. If you are overly stressed, it can impact your quality of sleep and sleep duration. Insufficient sleep will increase stress levels significantly. Both a lack of sleep and stress may lead to ongoing mental and physical health issues, too.
It is essential that if you deal with stress problems, or if you are dealing with sleep challenges, that you take action. You can seek help from your doctor or mental health professional. Family and friends can provide additional support as well.
Now is the time to take action. As you reduce stress and get more sleep, you will feel better, have more energy, and have a more positive outlook on life. Being informed and knowing the effect of stress on your sleep will help you take the right steps to improve your health.