How Stress is Stealing Your Zzz’s

How stress affects your sleep and what to do about it.

Sometimes it can feel like separating work life from stress is a huge tug of war. According to a Work Stress Survey, several Americans have unresolved issues at work that result in increased levels of stress in their overall life.

Approximately 83 percent of employed Americans are stressed out about something at work. From tension with co-workers to work overload, Americans are bringing their work problems home with them.

Unfortunately, high levels of stress impacts people both physically and psychologically. Physical ailments range from headaches(44%) to feeling dizzy(13%), with fatigue(51%) ranking the highest among Americans.

Stress and Sleep: What’s the Connection?

According to a Stress and Sleep Survey by the American Psychological Association, American adults are sleeping only an average of 6.7 hours. That’s less than the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep set by the National Sleep Foundation.

The survey also found that 43 percent of adults reported that stress has lead to restless nights — AKA lying awake at night. Interestingly, the report also concluded that people with higher levels of stress had more sleep issues.

And why is that?

The stress hormone cortisol is one of the key players in your fight or flight response. When you’re constantly stressed out(let’s call it chronic stress), this results in extremely high levels of cortisol. And the higher your cortisol level, the harder it can be to fall asleep.

What Causes Stress?

In the U.S., there are many factors that lead to stress but here are the main causes as listed on Statistic Brain:

How Does Stress Mess With Your Sleep?

Worried about work? Worried about your relationship? It doesn’t matter what the source of your stress is, they all interfere with your sleep ultimately.

Stress doesn’t just affect the hours of sleep you get, it also affects your quality of sleep.

The Stress and Sleep Survey found that only 20 percent of people reported their sleep quality as very good or excellent. People who reported feeling stressed, on the other hand, reported that their sleep quality was extremely poor and they often found themselves waking up in the middle of the night.

All those stressful nights can lead to insomnia.

The more you worry about things out of your control, the more you are putting yourself at risk for insomnia. Each new stress factor increases your odds for the sleep disorder by 19 percent.

Stressing about something late at night sends your brain into overdrive.

So, your active sympathetic nervous system doesn’t get to switch to the parasympathetic nervous style. If your sympathetic nervous system can’t shut down, your brain stays hyperactive which in turn leaves you wide awake.

Lastly, stress and sleep can create a vicious cycle.

You are stressed so you can’t sleep and your sleepless nights can make you stressed out during the day…which then just leads to more sleepless nights.

How to Combat Stress for Better Night’s Sleep

If you are tired of being tired then follow these better sleep guidelines:

Keep a consistent sleep schedule.

Get up at the same time and go to sleep at the same time, even on the weekends. By going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day, you keep your circadian rhythm in check. And a good circadian rhythm helps maintain your sleep.

Maintain a quiet, dark and cool sleep environment.

Studies have found that this is the best environment conducive to the best sleep. Eliminating excessive noise and light helps to keep distractions and stress away.

Keep electronics out of the bedroom.

You’ll have a much more stress-free environment conducive to sleep if you leave your tv, phone, and computer out of the bedroom. Extra light from electronics can interfere with your sleep and you might stay up later watching Netflix. Leave your bedroom for sleeping and amorous activities only.

Don’t drink caffeine or alcohol 4-6 hours before you go to sleep.

The stimulants in coffee, soda drinks, and tea keep you up awake even if you consumed them 6 hours ahead of your normal bedtime. And while alcohol can make you drowsy, it disturbs your sleep stages which leads to poor sleep quality.

Get out of bed if you can’t fall asleep. 

If you find yourself wide awake in bed for 15 minutes, tossing and turning isn’t going to help. Go to another quiet area and lie down until you feel tired and then go back to your bed. This helps to dissociate your bed with “sleep anxiety”.

Have you found a great sleep remedy? Comment and let us know how you combat stress and log extra hours of sleep.