How Does Stress Impact Sleep?

How Does Stress Impact Sleep?

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In today’s fast-paced world, it’s no secret that we all strive for a better quality of life. From pursuing our dream careers to indulging in our favourite hobbies, we pack our schedules to the brim. But with so much going on, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and stressed. This pressure affects our mental health, our body’s natural functions, and our sleep patterns. Getting a good night’s sleep is crucial for recharging our conscious minds and maintaining optimal cognitive abilities. So how can we ensure we get the rest we need to thrive in our busy lives?

Say goodbye to restless nights and hello to a refreshed, rejuvenated you. This article will delve into sleep science and provide practical tips for optimising your sleep environment. From choosing the right mattress to creating a soothing atmosphere, we’ll show you how to make the ultimate sleep sanctuary.

The amount and quality of sleep we get affect how:

  • We perform our daily activities.
  • We interact with one another.
  • We make decisions.
  • We behave.
  • How we pay attention.

All the above reflects how we live and goes hand in hand with the quality of sleep we get. Therefore, the pressure exerted on our mental health following engagement in various activities determines our quality of rest. Such pressure stimulates the release of hormonal chemicals that affect sleep cycles.

man wrapped in a duvet in bed
Photo: Victoria Romulo

Why Is Sleep Essential?

 Sleep is a body function that promotes brain recharging and gives rest to the conscious mind. Our bodies require consistent brain recharging and general rest so that body functioning is carried out usually. The conscious mind works during the day and may get exhausted from high thinking capacity when we engage in daily programs. It does not necessarily mean that only work calls for thought processes, but the conscious mind becomes engaged whenever we are awake. When we are asleep, our vital body organs that have been damaged become repaired, and the memory gets to rest.

Sleep is essential in ensuring that:

  •  We make the right judgments.
  • We maintain a positive mood.
  • We let the memory work at its best.

Enough sleep, therefore, promotes a healthy and happy life. Lack of enough sleep is associated with mental health problems, lifestyle conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, stroke, heart disease and obesity and various health risks such as reckless driving. Therefore, it is recommended that you get enough sleep per night. It is suitable for you, reflecting how you carry yourself daily.

What Is the Burden of Stress?

Stress is unavoidable. Various unhealthy interactions can cause us we encounter:

  • Workplace pressure, such as long working hours
  • Family struggles may lead to separation and dissatisfaction between family members.
  • Harsh academic institutions for children.
  • Unfulfilled promises and goals not achieved.
  • Lack of employment.

Stress causes a lack of sleep. These are just a few, and it is a fact that no human being is ever under stress. This pressure that exists in our minds causes changes in how our bodies function. Stress can either reduce or increase or hinder body processes. Despite your ability to handle stress, it causes damage to your mental and physical health.

office worker at desk
Photo: Getty Images

People with insomnia are characterised by symptoms such as lying awake for long hours without catching sleep. Stress introduces negative energy to our bodies, and we tend to become moody and uninterested in activities. It also increases the likelihood of developing other advanced mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression, affecting sleep cycles.

What Is the Link Between Stress and Sleep?

Sleep is vital in promoting cognitive processes and functioning. It boosts academic performance and concentration levels. Stress causes changes to the nervous system’s functioning, thus triggering the fight and flight responses. Therefore, you cannot rest since the body is ready for work and not rest.

Stress affects both your sleep quality and the time you spend sleeping. Moreover, sleep can elevate stress levels hence establishing the link. Sleep ensures mental and physical wellness, and due to the unavoidable pressure we get from our educational institutions and workplaces, general health is affected, primarily our mental health.

Additionally, one stress factor that has been associated with lack of sleep is long working hours. The long hours at work do not maintain the required balance of work and rest. This leads to low performance at work since their minds do not get enough rest necessary for sound decision-making and directed attention to their activity. In the UK, for instance, reports show that most workers spend a lot of time at the workplace and suffer from a lack of sleep.

Why does stress affect sleep?

Various forms of stress release chemicals that trigger how to fight response. These chemicals cause inflammatory reactions. This reflex is meant to keep you awake in case of impending danger. It makes you stay alert because the body thinks something may happen, so it must be ready.

Sometimes, you are sure that you are not stressed, but stress exists to some particular level, and personal factors affect how our bodies respond to such situations. Inflammatory responses can be in the form of swelling, tension in the muscles, and allergic reactions. An example is the cortisol chemical that inhibits the hormone production responsible for sleep called melatonin. Therefore, you tend to remain awake for the better part of the night.

What Are the Specific Ways in Which Stress Impacts Sleep?

Stress causes adverse effects on patterns of sleep. Stress leads to midnight night awakening, uncomfortable sleep, and waking up between sleep cycles. Stress affects the amount of sleep we get and rest quality. The quantity and quality of sleep are essential for general health and body functions.

Stress grinds your teeth. Stress grinds your teeth. In most cases, stress causes increased thought processes, headaches, heart palpitations, and restlessness, affecting sleep patterns. Some reactions also occur when you are stressed and cause body responses that disturb and interrupt continuous sleep. The following are ways in which stress affects sleep:

  1. Teeth grinding

This is referred to as Bruxism. It is caused by stress and tension during bedtime. Tense jaw muscles characterise it; hence you grind your teeth during sleep. The strained jaw muscles may trigger pain sensations affecting your ears and head. The tight muscles can lead to teeth wearing, causing total damage. This process involves sleep patterns; you can wake up early and feel tired after sleep. Continuous sleep is prone to interruptions since your whole body feels tense.

a person`s teeth
Photo: Kamal Hoseinianzade
  1. Stress causes aching of muscles and pain.

Stress obstructs magnesium and calcium absorption, minerals that promote healthy joints and muscles. The stress hormone cortisol stimulates muscle and joint inflammation, affecting sleep quality and amounts. When you are stressed, the neck and shoulder muscles become tense, bringing about persistent headaches and pain flushes. Prolonged stress may lead to severe menstrual pains and depletion of bone densities. These symptoms alter the regular sleep cycles, and you often cannot catch any sleep. Staying awake most of the night becomes your nightmare; you only wish to close your eyes and quickly hide from the pain.

  1. Stress elevates body temperature.

When your body temperature increases, blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and heart rate are also elevated. This causes excessive sweating at night and increased blood flow that may cause inflammation and reddening since capillaries are damaged. Increased body temperature denies you sound sleep; you awaken from sleep every time, and sometimes you hardly catch some sleep.

  1. Stress causes allergic reactions.

Some hormones, such as histamine, cause allergic reactions when you are stressed. Allergenic symptoms worsen at night, and therefore, you lack sleep. Such symptoms include sneezing and coughing, sometimes severe and often starting at night. Other symptoms, such as itchy and irritated skin, intensify inflammation. Hence you are unable to sleep.

  • Stress obstructs digestion

Digestion problems such as constipation, diarrhoea, and bloating lead to a lack of sleep. Due to the fight and flight reflex, digestion may be slowed down, resulting in constipation and may then speed up, leading to diarrhoea. Stress produces inflammatory hormones that lead to a leaking gastrointestinal duct. When this happens, your night is disturbed, your gut is upset, and you must stay awake until you feel better. Instead of sleeping, you look for working alternatives that comfort your gut. Cases of diarrhoea are sometimes intense that you have to stay near the washroom. That means avoiding sleeping by all means.

What is the Role of a Good Mattress in Promoting Sleep?

Studies have proven that memory foam mattresses improve the amount and quality of sleep you get every night. Medium-firm mattresses reduce cases of worrying, tension, and headaches. These mattresses help those who are nervous, irritable, and with continuous thought processes to relax and focus on getting enough sleep. Comfortable beds decrease stress levels because they can increase your sleep quality.

close up of mattress
Photo: Stephen Andrews

Can you be allergic to your mattress?

Some microscopic organisms, such as buggers, stay on beds as they primarily feed on cells of your skin. You may be allergic to these kinds of organisms and especially asthma patients. Your mattress, therefore, needs a cover that will help keep them from travelling into your mattress and sheets. This way, allergic responses are altered, and you get better sleep quality.

When to change your mattress?

Your bad mattress may be the cause of disrupted sleep cycles. An old mattress makes you turn continuously, disrupting your chances of falling asleep quickly. When your mattress contains holes, it is time to purchase a new one. This will prevent buggers that can cause allergic reactions that disrupt sleep cycles. If you feel uncomfortable, your mattress may be the reason; therefore, purchasing a new one promotes your sleep and reduces stress. 

What are the benefits of a good mattress?

  • It promotes back health. A good mattress gives you the support to make you feel comfortable when you sleep. The right mattress eliminates cases of back pain. Back pain is mainly related to uncomfortable beds that strain your back. The focus is to detect when your mattress is old and buy a new one to eliminate back pain.
  • A good mattress provides a good sleeping posture. Your mattress should reinforce the poor posture you take when you are asleep. You should know what makes you feel good and then go for that, hence respecting your preferences. You have a right to have that comfortable mattress not to experience interrupted sleep, resulting in tiredness after bedtime. Your selections should direct you to a mattress:
  • That gives you the support you need and fulfils your comfort level.
  • You can try to ensure it gives you the support you need before purchasing it.
  • That is made of high-quality products and is durable for your desired time frame.
  • That minimises disturbances that may lead to interrupted sleep.

Therefore, better sleep comes with dealing with stress that impacts sleep and making good choices on mattress types to purchase. A good mattress reduces the cases of tensed muscles, hence, better sleep. A good mattress gives you maximum comfort that supports your whole body posture, therefore, continuous sleep.

Sleep is essential for every human being. Stress is part of life. It affects both the young and the old. Stress arises from workplace pressures, interactions that may lead to dissatisfaction and daily encounters. Stress leads to the release of hormones that affect sleep cycles. Lack of enough sleep is associated with reduced interaction rates, poor workplace performance, and disrupted concentration.