There are a lot of articles out there on how stress can keep you from sleeping well, and almost everyone has experienced this at one time or another. After a stressful day you lay in bed with your mind racing, waiting for sleep that doesn’t come soon enough. When it does come, your stress might invade your dreams or wake you repeatedly during the night. The result is that you wake up feeling like a zombie until you’ve had a couple cups of your favorite caffeinated beverage.
In this scenario, in order to get better sleep you need to get a handle on your stress. That can be easier said than done when many of your stressors may be out of your control. Don’t get me wrong, though, it CAN be done. In most cases you have to change your response to the stressors, which is also easier said than done; but it can be done if you’re really motivated.
But did you know that lack of good quality sleep will increase your stress the next day; not just before your morning coffee but all. day. long. If you don’t believe me, just scroll through your Facebook feed on any given morning to see how a lack of sleep stresses your friends out. Don’t forget to read your own posts… maybe you’re one of the crabby morning posters.
Remember, lack of sleep doesn’t only affect your ability to wake up rested and cheerful: it actually impacts your whole day. Yes. The whole day. Here’s how:
When you don’t get enough sleep, you tend to over-react to the stressors you encounter throughout the day. Whether it’s the person who cut you off in traffic, a busybody coworker, or a micromanaging boss, a lack of sleep robs you of the mental and emotional ability to respond with grace and tact and in a way that won’t stress you out further.
Put another way, when you get enough sleep you are better able to deal with, and therefore not over-react to, your everyday stressors.
Stress creates a cascade of physical reactions in the body: release of stress hormones, muscle tightening, and changes in circulation away from those areas not needed to either fight or flee, like digestion and the areas of the brain associated with rational thought and communication. The body is only meant to be in the the throes of the stress response for 15-20 minutes at a time; long enough to either fight or run away. Today, it’s not uncommon for people to be stressed for the majority of their waking hours. You can see where this can cause more than a few problems
Sleep is the time when the body repairs itself. Throughout the sleep cycle your:
During a good night’s sleep you should go through 4-5 sleep cycles. That’s a lot of repair and restoration!
When you get a good night’s sleep, you have less pain and dysfunction and are better able to cope with the stressors you encounter.
So how do you get a good night’s sleep when you’ve been stressed all day? The answer is going to be different for everyone but a good place to start is by decreasing the stressors you can and increasing your stress management skills to deal with those you don’t have control over.
While you’re working on your stress management skills, you should also work on developing good sleep habits.
So now you have my recipe for better sleep and less stress. If you found it useful, please remember to share. There are handy buttons just below the post to make it easy.