Sleep and Stress
Having too much stress in your life can make it difficult to fall asleep and get and good night’s sleep. The relationship between stress and sleep, however, is a two-way street
— not getting enough sleep can be the cause of stress.
This correlation has been shown in a number of publications and research studies. In Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine, it was reported that night shift workers average five to 10 fewer hours of sleep per week and are more likely to suffer from a range of stress-related conditions, such as depression, heart disease, high blood pressure and lower immunity.
Research published in the journal Sleep found that sleep deprivation resulted in higher levels of stress hormones the next evening. In addition, a study of insomniacs published in the Journal of Endocrinology & Metabolism found that people with the lowest quality sleep produced higher amounts of stress hormones throughout the day and night.
With a clear connection between lack of sleep and stress, what can you do to get a good night’s sleep and prevent stress? Fortunately, there a number of simple steps for better sleep:
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol at least 4 hours before bed time. Although it might seem like alcohol can help you relax and fall asleep, it can interrupt your sleep during the night.
- Don’t use your bedroom for non-sleep activities such as working, watching TV or eating.
- Make sure you have a suitable mattress that makes it easy to fall asleep and continue sleeping through the night.
- As much as possible, maintain a daily routine with set times for working, eating, sleeping and other activities.
- Don’t go to bed unless you feel tired.
- If you are wide awake in bed and can’t sleep, get up and do something else until you feel tired.
It’s clear that better sleep can lead to lower stress. So follow these simple steps to get the sleep your body needs.
Leproult, R. et al., Sleep loss results in an elevation of cortisol levels the next evening, Sleep, 1997, 20: 865-870.
Vgontzas, A.N. et al. Chronic insomnia is associated with nyctohemeral activation of the hypothalamic-pituatary-adrenal axis: clinical implications, Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. August 2001. 86(8): 3787-3794.
Meir H. Kryger & Thomas Roth & William C. Dement, Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine, 6th Edition, Elsevier.