By this point, it is common knowledge that stress will take a toll on the quality of your sleep generally, even if you sleep on a puffy mattress, though you may not know exactly why that happens or how it leads to that. It is true though; feeling stressed out over an issue will leave you tossing and turning in bed because it enhances the psychological and physiological arouses that tend to make it hard for your mind and body to relax completely.
When you find yourself battling to get some shut eye after a particularly stressful day, just know you are notalone – getting good quality sleep is bound to be an elusive task. You will have trouble trying to fall asleep, stay asleep, or get refreshing sleep. Inaddition, the time you spend in the deep sleep stages – 3 & 4 – will also reduce as well. That also means that you will be more vulnerable to a mental breakdown the next day, since you are not well-rested.
So unless you are a Tibetan monk and claim you do not experience stress, here are some signs that it may be taking a toll on your sleep – and consequently your health.
Your muscles are too tense
People who suffer from chronic levels of stress fill find that their muscles are constantly tense and painful, while also experiencing various aches in different sections if the body – such as the shoulders, neck, and even migraines and headaches.
In addition, it is very hard to fall asleep when your mind is racing, and it is even harder to try and stay asleep. That annoyance of poor sleep is worse because it will set the stage for you to be increasingly irritable the next day and go through more headaches as well as sensitivity to pain.
A common symptom of stress is a racing heartbeat or variations in heart rate, mainly due to the increase in cortisol levels (the stress hormone). This leads to even more muscular tension, as well as increasing automatic arousals, signs that make your efforts to sleep worse, and setting up sleep disturbances.
Tips you can use to manage stress
Even though stress is irritating when you are trying to get some shut-eye, it is a fact of life – you cannot really avoid it anyway. However, you can develop ways of managing your stress levels, so that it does not interfere with your sleep quality and quantity, and you can take better care of your health.
Here are some tips you can use:
Finding out the reason for your stress
The key to winning a battle is finding out the roots of that problem, and this applies to stress as well. It is important to find out what exactly led to the problem you are facing, and this will enable you to deal with it more effectively.
While you may be embarrassed to seek help, there is nothing wrong with admitting you have a problem. So many people suffer in silence, but the best thing about admitting it is a problem is that it helps with letting go.
Make sure to spend much of you time with people who value you and are willing to support you in your efforts to maintain your health. You can also confide in them about the things you are going through, or you can do fun activities with them.
Practicing having healthy thoughts
The things that you expect and how you think will have a significant effect on your stress levels, much more than you may realize. For this reason, it is important to have positive thoughts and practice on positive words you can tell yourself when you are having a stressful day.
A common mistake that leads to high amounts of stress in people is focusing on the way things should be, instead of the positive aspects that may come when you put your mind to something great. For instance, you may start complaining that you are too lazy, and should be more productive in school, or cleaning up the house. Another problem is concluding very broad generalizations using one minor fact as the basis, for instance saying you are failing in your workplace because you came to a meeting some minutes late.
Self-talk is vital in determining your attitude to things, and will also determine your stress levels. In addition, if you have extensive struggles with your thoughts, counselling and therapy sessions can help you overcome these thoughts and teach you to think positively.
Incorporate exercise into your routine
Exercise is not only an activity that helps you keep fit and stay healthy physically, but also improves your mood and overall outlook on life. It is a very powerful way of fighting stress, while relaxing the muscles and helping you sleep better at night.
If you are over the age of 45 or have taken some time to become active, it is best to check in with your doctor for advice on how to start a routine.
Eat healthier foods
You probably know the importance of eating healthier to maintain your health, but it also affects how effectively you handle stress. A healthy diet also improves your sleep ability, and that means you reduce your intake of caffeine, alcohol and sugar.
Take active steps to improve your sleep
One of the things you can do to improve your sleep is setting a regular time to sleep and wake up, and make sure you stick to them (even on weekends, so do not be tempted to sleep in).
Another way is using relaxation techniques and meditation, and even sitting quietly can make a difference, even if it is for a few minutes.
The issue of stress and sleep is not something you should take lightly, as it will affect your health in the long-term. It is important to set up ways of managing it, and ensure you listen to the signs that your body is having none of it.