STRESS & NO SLEEP
How to sleep better when stressed
Stress is something we all experience on a daily basis. It helps us cope with difficult situations by making us more alert and allowing us to react more quickly. Like with many things in life, the key is balance: while too little stress might bore us, too much of it will cause us to burn out and have sleepless nights. Stress, if kept at the right amount, will help us stay energised and motivated throughout the day.
But statistics suggest that the majority of us are struggling to maintain this healthy balance:
- Roughly 75% of adults in the USA say they suffer from some kind of stress symptom, including headaches and sleeping problems. Among workers, the number rises to nearly 80%.
- Globally, more than 30% of people say they feel stressed.
- Sleep problems are among the most common symptoms of stress.
So, let’s have a look at how stress impacts sleep and the other way round, how stress impacts our health and what we can do to sleep better when stressed.
How does stress impact sleep? | How does sleep impact stress? | How can stress-induced insomnia impact my health? | How can I quiet my mind for a better night’s sleep? | How your pajamas can help you sleep better
STRESS AND SLEEPLESSNESS
How does stress impact sleep?
Modern life tends to be fast-paced and packed with a variety of stressors, such as:
- The always-on culture, with our eyes glued to our smartphones
- A lack of in-person social contact
- Family issues such as divorce or the loss of a loved one
- Dissatisfaction at work
- Serious illness or the threat of it
All of these stressors can lead to chronic stress, which in turn will cause our muscles to tense, our heart rate to increase and a negative impact on our digestive system. These symptoms can then disrupt our internal body clock that tells us when to sleep and when to be awake. Many people who feel constantly stressed have trouble falling asleep at night because their levels of the stress hormone cortisol don’t drop as much as they should.
Eventually, when they do manage to fall asleep, they end up not sleeping well enough because that same hormone, if too high, limits the important deep and REM sleep phases. The result is exhaustion throughout the day, and that in turn increases stress.
How can stress-induced insomnia impact my health?
Every new parent will tell you how devastating a lack of sleep can feel. While for parents it’s usually temporary, up to 30% of adults currently suffer from insomnia, meaning that they frequently have a hard time falling asleep, staying asleep through the night and/or sleeping well enough to feel refreshed the next morning.
If these sleep issues occur more than three times a week and last for at least three months, we talk about chronic insomnia, which can cause a variety of health issues, both physical and mental. Here are a few of the most common ones:
- Fatigue – you’ll feel so exhausted that it’s difficult to just get through the day
- Mood swings – these will make you highly irritable and lead to more severe disorders such as depression or anxiety
- Brain fog – you’ll find it hard to remember things and to concentrate
- Weight gain – this puts you at a higher risk of obesity, which can cause more serious problems such as diabetes or heart disease
- Reduced libido due to hormonal imbalances
- A weaker immune system – this makes you more likely to catch a virus
- Higher risk of accidents due to the fatigue and lack of concentration mentioned above
And the list goes on. It goes to show just how important it is to get a good night’s sleep. So, let’s find out what we can do to fall asleep more easily and improve our overall quality of sleep.
RELAX TO SLEEP BETTER
How can I quiet my mind for a better night’s sleep?
In modern life, most of us feel like avoiding too much stress is not a viable option. The good news is, the better we learn to cope with that stress, the better we will sleep. And the better we sleep, the better we can manage stressful situations. Here are a few things we can do to reverse the stress-sleep cycle:
A PEACEFUL BEDROOM
Make your bedroom a haven of peace and ban TVs, laptops and phones. The blue light they emit disrupts our internal body clock.
Try not to work right before bedtime. Make sure you have some time left to unwind and relax.
A WORRY-FREE MIND
Try writing a to-do list for the next day before going to bed to calm a racing mind. Keep a pen and paper by your bed to write down anything that might pop up in your mind during the night.
PROGRESSIVE MUSCLE RELAXATION
This is a tried-and-tested technique: slowly tense and relax each muscle in your body, starting from the tips of your toes and working your way up to the top of your head.
CONSISTENCY IN SLEEP
Establish a sleep routine by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even during holidays and at the weekend.
Try to be more in the moment by meditating or doing breathing exercises at night (of course, they can ease stress during the day, too).
Follow a routine that promotes relaxation at night, for example by taking a soothing hot bath or drinking a cup of herbal tea such as chamomile or lemon balm.
FOOD & DRINK
Avoid caffeine and alcohol too close to bedtime. Heavy meals for dinner will also keep your metabolism active, which can disrupt your sleep.
Exercise regularly to relieve stress. However, avoid intense workouts too late in the evening as they might raise your body temperature, and that can make it difficult to fall asleep.
DON’T FORCE IT
If you have trouble falling asleep, it might help to get out of bed and do something else such as going for a walk or cleaning a kitchen cabinet (no screens!) until you feel tired enough to sleep.
THE RIGHT TEMPERATURE
Wear temperature-regulating sleepwear to avoid feeling too hot or too cold at night, and make sure your bedroom is at the optimum temperature (max. 18°C/65°F).
How your pajamas can help you sleep better
People tend to spend lots of money on their day to-day outfits with the aim of looking and feeling their best. But what about at night? For a good night’s sleep, our bodies need to maintain a lower temperature than during the day. Seasonal temperature swings as well as the wrong fabrics on our skin can make us feel too cold or too hot at night.
So, when buying sleepwear, make sure it’s breathable and absorbs sweat to keep you dry and comfortable. Dagsmejan offers different sleepwear collections designed to meet your body’s individual sleep requirements: