Sleep and stress

Often when you are stressed you don’t sleep well, and if you don’t sleep well, you can become stressed! There is a close link between stress and sleeplessness, and unfortunately, an increase one often equals an increase of the other. Stress will usually cause sleeplessness because a stressed mind is always racing. It is making lists and plans, thinking through every outcome of a situation, or worrying about things at work or home.

The stress response

If your brain recognises a perceived threat, whether it be physical, mental, or emotional, and whether it is real or imagined, a stress response will be triggered, which then causes your body to do whatever it can do get you out of danger. This often means a surge of adrenaline, or a quickening heart rate. While this response usually is not helpful in today’s modern world, our brains are simply trying to protect us. If your body remains in this state of high adrenaline, you will naturally find it harder to sleep.

Managing your stress

Managing your stress is, of course, the best way to overcome restless nights caused by stress. A couple of things you can implement are:

  • cutting back on your commitments
  • incorporating meditation (or even just 5 minutes of quiet time) before bed
  • making your bedroom a place of rest only – avoid doing work or watching TV in bed
  • prioritising time for sleep – set yourself a bedtime and stick to it
  • reading a book before bed instead of scrolling on your phone or watching TV.

By managing your stress, you will likely find it begins to be easier to get to sleep of a night. If implementing these strategies does not work for you, and you are still having trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about an alternative.

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