In these trying times, people are stressed now more than ever. Stress negatively affects the body in a lot of different way and one of the main issues caused by it is a lack of sleep. Millions of people worldwide struggle to sleep due to stress, even during normal times, but there are some things that you can do to help improve this.
When our internal neuro-chemical systems are working normally, they regulate biological processes like sleep, appetite, mood and energy levels. If we are stressed, the Adreno-Cortical System is dysregulated and our energy sources are diverted, resulting in sleep disruption and mood changes.
This disruption doesn’t just mean we’re getting less sleep, this lack of sleep in turn leads us to feel more stressed, causing us to become trapped in what experts call a “stress-sleep” cycle. It’s an alarming term which may sound bad at first, but learning about this cycle, and understanding how it affects our sleep, is the first step in getting our stress levels under control.
What causes a lack of sleep?
Stress affects the body’s biological 24-hour clock – its circadian rhythm, which is responsible for maintaining physical, mental and behavioural changes that take place throughout the day. It regulates our sleep-wake cycle by managing the relevant hormones, coinciding with specific times of the day.
Someone that has a well-balanced daily routine that hasn’t experienced prolonged periods of stress, will benefit from naturally feeling tired or awake at appropriate times of the day which is why during the evening our bodies produce larger quantities of serotonin, the hormone that prepares you to fall asleep.
When a person is stressed their body reacts by releasing hormones which send it into a state of alertness. When hormones like cortisol and adrenaline are frequently triggered the circadian rhythm becomes dysregulated which sends conflicting signals to the brain and affects the body’s natural biological processes such as sleep.
5 Tips To Sleep Better When Stressed
Dr Irshaad Ebrahim, a neuropsychiatrist and co-founder of The London Sleep Centre advises that these 5 tips can help you get a more consistent sleep and reduce the impact of stress on your sleep cycle.
- Build a consistent bedtime routine
Going to bed and waking up at the same time helps maintain the circadian rhythm – the body’s 24-hour internal clock.
- Reduce use of electronics before bedtime
Bright lights before bed can stimulate us, again interfering with a person’s circadian rhythm. Turning off your electronic devices an hour before bedtime is a powerful intervention to assist sleep.
- Using a supplement or herbal remedy can relieve stress and improve sleep
Taking a product like I Want To Sleep can help you fall asleep much easier, reduce the feeling of stress and anxiety and help you get a better night sleep.
- Do some meditation or breathing work before bedtime
Reducing cortisol levels, and in-turn stress levels, before we go to bed is a must. Try 15 minutes of meditation or breath work beforehand to help decrease anxiety and promote relaxation.
- Do some physical activity
Physical activity is great for helping our body balance hormone levels, improving sleep and reducing stress. It’s a great way to release endorphins and other chemicals in the brain which reduce stress and regulate mood.