Stress and Sleep Are 2 Sides Of The Same Coin

Sleep stressed out student

It is a well-known fact that the amount of sleep we get has important effects on our health and our general well-being. Similarly, stress also has a major effect on our health and well-being.

Proper management of both sleep and stress, therefore, goes a long way in ensuring that we live healthy, happy, and productive life.  Whether eating better, exercising, or buying the right mattress, doing what it takes to get a good night’s sleep is a crucial part of managing stress and anxiety.

Worryingly, both sleep and stress levels are proving to be problematic for many people, not only in the U.S but also in other places.  Research is increasingly showing a direct link between sleep and stress.

This is especially so with work-related stress. This link has resulted in a potentially dangerous cycle of stress and exhaustion. The good news is that the existence of this cycle means that one can manage one by managing the other.

Direct Impact On Sleep Is Stress

Through research, scientists have been able to establish that stress has a profound and distinct effect on sleep and sleep patterns. Many a time, most of us have had the displeasure of unwillingly staying up late at night due to stressful thoughts. In fact, it has been found that a large number of insomniacs have in one way or another, experienced stress-causing events in the recent past. More so, acknowledging, or rather, paying attention to stress can cause

In fact, it has been found that a large number of insomniacs have in one way or another, experienced stress-causing events in the recent past. More so, acknowledging, or rather, paying attention to stress can cause insomnia.

What this means is that the more you believe that certain events in your life are stressful, the higher the chances of suffering from insomnia.

Credit: Ted-Ed

For example, U.S military personnel who had been deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan during the height of the U.S. conflict in those areas reported sleeping less than they did before they were deployed.

In addition to that, the quality of their sleep was lower. Stress was noted as one of the reasons for the decline in sleep.

However, even after returning from these war zones, the quality of their sleep was still low with the most likely reason for this being the post-traumatic stress disorders that they may have suffered.

Extreme stress is however not the reason for sleeping difficulties. Through my own research, I discovered that even anxiety arising from emotional labor (such as faking a smile) was enough to cause insomnia. For example, employees who experienced low emotional labor demands on a certain day experienced lower anxiety levels and insomnia was, therefore, a non-issue on that day.

However, days with higher emotional labor demands resulted in higher levels of anxiety which subsequently led to increased insomnia.

Sleep Influences Stress

Sleep stressed out student

Sleep and more so, lack of sleep can have an adverse effect on one’s stress levels.   According to a recent study, people who were deprived of sleep experienced higher levels of stress than those who had enough quality sleep.

This was despite the fact that participants were exposed to an exam that was only mildly stressful. Researchers have also shown, over time, that lack of sleep not only leads to stress but also strains psychological health.

What You Can Do About It

The good news is that we are not entirely helpless when it comes to the vicious cycle of stress and sleep. Firstly, there is a myriad of ways through which to lower stress.  These include having some degree of personal control over the situation in question and having a social environment that is supportive.

It is no wonder therefore that most organizational wellness programs often include a stress management program. These programs have been found to improve the quality of sleep among participants. By lowering stress, you are bound to experience a wide range of health and well-being benefits that also include better sleep.

On the other hand, you could experience a huge decline in stress levels simply by improving the quality of your sleep. One way of improving the quality of your sleep is to engage in behavioral patterns that are promotive of good sleep patterns.

For example, sleeping when you are meant to sleep rather than engaging in other activities during sleep time is good sleep hygiene. When you sleep better, even the most difficult situations in life are bound to appear less stressful.

The bottom line is that by managing sleep, you can also manage stress.

If you are experiencing high-stress levels, getting more sleep could be more helpful to you than you think.   If you are the kind who experiences difficulties when it comes to falling asleep, you probably need to adopt better sleep hygiene; that will help get your sleep patterns back on track.

Just ensure that whatever you do, you do not become a slave of exhaustion and stress. Doing so may be getting yourself on a direct path to madness!


Author: Joe Clark

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