There’s a difference between having stress and being stressed. Stress is a natural part of life caused by circumstances and events. Being stressed means the stress lives in the body—it’s turned from acute to chronic.
More than 80% of people stress about this country’s health, impacting individual health on a grand scale.
In the same way, stress and sleep are interwoven. Sleep imbalance increases stress and stress increases sleep imbalance.
While some things are out of our control, monitoring sleep and stress levels aren’t among them. Here’s how to regulate your sleep and stress patterns.
Stress and Sleep Go Hand-In-Hand
Stress is a silent killer. It’s become so normalized that people forget what balance is. It’s a survival response to adapt, assimilate, and acclimate to adversity, but sleep need not be one of those challenges.
Stress is a normal experience, but not a way to live. Since stress is normal to society—the response to a doing culture—it’s hard to know stress from anxiety or other health conditions.
The truth is they’re all related. Common stressors are:
- Mental and emotional health
- Food security
Stress is deceiving. As a result, the stress and sleep deprivation correlation can be a blindspot. It’s easier to spot other conditions first, like:
- Body aches
- Headaches and fatigue
- Irritability or short-temper
- Appetite changes
- Mood instability
- Digestive issues
- Insomnia or other sleep disorders
The body speaks in symptoms. It’s easy to separate sleep troubles at night from the pains of the day. That only perpetuates the cycle.
Symptoms carry messages. They locate dysregulation to prompt the body back into balance. If you’re experiencing symptoms, consider how they relate to your sleep cycle.
After all, it’s called sleep/wake cycle for a reason—they’re different sides of the same coin.
Stress and Lack of Sleep
Sleep deprivation is dangerous. Though humans can adapt to adverse conditions, sleep’s not the time to compromise.
Effects of Stress on Sleep
If sleeping less than 7 hours a night seems fine to you, the body’s taking a hit. Sleep deprivation can manifest as severe disorders, like:
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Nervous system dysregulation
- Psychological instability
- Compromised immune system
- Adrenal stress
The heart and brain starve when they don’t have time to restore. The brain needs to experience REM sleep patterns to process the day’s experience. Without proper restoration, brain chemistry gets altered.
When the brain’s deprived, the body’s deprived and vice versa. The body’s physiology responds to the brain’s signals. Cue symptoms!
Once conditions become pathological, they complicate. Treatment can become another level of stress, further perpetuating the problem.
The answer’s easy. Go back to basics. The body needs food, sleep, rest, exercise, and shelter for optimal wellness.
Sleep’s a physiological basic need. Don’t wait until you’re chemistry’s compromised to examine your stress and sleep.
How to Sleep When Stressed
Stress stems from life events, emotions, beliefs, behaviors, experiences, and sensations. As a result, it’s a layered experience. Stress is what happens and also how you relate to it.
For that reason, basic stress doesn’t guarantee sleep deprivation. How you relate to your stress makes sleep troubles more likely.
Once stress permeates sleep patterns, it can feel impossible to get adequate rest. Here’s what to do.
Emotional Stress and Sleep
Reverting to basic human needs means tending to yourself in a gentle way. Combatting stress means exactly that—fighting it with an opposite force—calm.
1. Have a Routine
It’s best to turn off electronics at least 30 minutes before bed. Technology has an electrical current that disturbs circadian rhythms. This form of stimulation isn’t compatible with restful sleep.
It’s possible your stressors link to the outside world, so turning off before bed aids a clear mind.
2. Conscious Lighting
In the same way that electronics influence the body, so does lighting. Fluorescents and bright lights can distress the body. Adjusting your lights can signal your nervous system to relax.
Consider a salt lamp, night light, or dimmed setting to have on an hour or so before bedtime.
3. Consistent Bedtime
Having bedtimes train the body, so inconsistent bedtimes confuse it. Once you have a set time, you can adjust your lights and electronics according to it.
Soon before long, the body will let you know that it’s time to unwind.
4. Bedtime Comforts
What makes you feel the safest and most relaxed? Consider other routines that can aid your stress and sleep cycle. For example, if you’re anxious, writing before bed could help release thought patterns.
Do you relax with essential oil smells? Deeper sleep also comes from bedding basics. Do you have the right sheets, pillows, and blankets?
5. Commitment to Self
It’s easy to abandon oneself during hard times. Regulating the effects of sleep on stress means tending to yourself in a new way.
This can result in the following:
- Re-parenting yourself
- Locating the main cause of your stress
- Transforming your relationship to stress
- Building the body’s resilience
- Living with greater intention
- Restoring balance
- Heightened awareness of your needs
- Reprioritization of needs
- Optimal wellness
- Appreciating sleep
Soon, you’ll learn sleep’s varying qualities. There’s a difference between emotional stress and sleep and physical stress and sleep.
Emotional stress may result in oversleeping and depression. Physical stress from overexertion can result in physical ailments and chronic fatigue.
Understanding your stress prompts this stress and sleep conversation. It’s important not to expect a quick fix. Restoring balance doesn’t mean never again experiencing imbalance.
Once you know your type of stress, you can respond accordingly.
Sleep for Wellness
Stress can make sleep seem optional and that’s not a gamble to take. It’s easy to push our limits in a work-oriented society and the repercussions are great.
If sleep feels like a luxury, you’re likely deprived of it. Still, there’s good news. Knowing the stress and sleep connection makes it easier to regulate your imbalances.
What’s fueling your imbalance? How can you right it? Remember, it’s your right to rest.
Your body thanks you. For more on living your fullest, most rested life, check out our latest blog posts!