Is a lack of sleep stressing you out? It could be the other way around. In fact, stress is the number one issue that negatively impacts the sleep of more than 80% of Canadians. It’s such a prevalent problem, that World Stress Day, this April 16th, has been established to raise awareness of stress and how it affects us all.
Studies are continuously linking stress to a host of health issues, ranging from an increased risk of heart disease to diabetes. But did you know that stress may also be the reason you believe getting a good night’s sleep is such a rare luxury?
When the body is in a stressed situation, cortisol, the body’s stress hormone, increases, and the adrenal glands begin to produce adrenaline and noradrenaline, two other stress hormones that trigger your “flight or fight response”. Continuous exposure to stressful situations throughout the day, such as watching your daily TO DO list grow, can make it difficult for the body to get out of this state of stress, even at night. This can hinder your body from producing melatonin, the body’s sleep hormone. The inability to finally get some shut-eye can be just plain frustrating, further creating even more stress.
The next day, the lack of sleep will result in not only a feeling of grogginess, but a lower threshold for the perception of stressful situations1. This means that when your commute is delayed or your friend cancels your lunch plans, you’ll perceive it to be more stressful than it really is. These events from the day will continuously keep you in a state of stress, resulting in the same poor quality sleep as you had the night before2.
And so the vicious cycle begins.
This stress and sleep connection is supported by research that shows that those with chronic insomnia have a high level of stress hormones and more stressful events throughout the year3. Additionally, another study found that workplace and social stress are strongly linked to sleep disturbances and impaired awakening4.
What you can do about it:
De-stress: Although easier said than done, tips to de-stress include deep breathing, unplugging from electronics when away from work, indulging in a massage and exercising daily.
Eat mood-boosting foods: Certain foods have nutrients that have positive effects on brain chemistry. You can read about the good mood foods here.
Stress-relieving supplements: For some extra stress support during the day, try Jamieson Stress and Sleep Support or Jamieson vitamin B12 supplement. It is formulated to help reduce symptoms of stress and promote relaxation.
Keep it dark during the night: Before bedtime, turn off all electronic devices that may emit light, as this can impact melatonin production.
Sleep on schedule: Make sure you’re going to bed at the same time each night. This will help your body regulate its internal sleep clock.
Avoid stimulants in the mid-afternoon and evening: This includes caffeine, alcohol and exercise. These can actually increase cortisol, further preventing the body from feeling restful.
Take a melatonin supplement: A natural sleep aid supplement containing melatonin and stress-relieving herbs, such as Jamieson Healthy SLEEPTM, can help regulate the body’s sleep/wake cycle, help reduce the time it takes to fall asleep, increase the number of sleeping hours and improve sleep quality, without the negative side effects of traditional sleep aids.
If sleep issues persist, speak to your healthcare practitioner as s/he may be able to determine underlying conditions.