Why is it that even though we know how important sleep is we spend endless nights lazing around, watching TV, playing on our phones or decide to clean our entire house when we should be getting those extra hours sleep? Instead we put it off and wake in the morning feeling absolutely exhausted. On the other side some of us find it hard to fall asleep even though our intentions are right. We go to bed at a reasonable time but can’t fall or stay asleep.
Eight out of ten of my patients have trouble with sleep and pretty much all of stem back to high stressed lives. Whether they try and adopt a healthy sleep pattern or not, they just can’t sleep because of their stress levels.
So how does stress affect sleep?
Our body naturally produces a chemical called cortisol, which increases alertness. It is usually secreted higher in the morning and lower at night. When we are stressed our body tends to secrete high volumes of cortisol, which affects our ability to wind down and relax. This also can cause cortisol to be lower in the mornings, which explains the struggle of getting out of bed for some of us.
Chronic high secretion of cortisol has detrimental effects on health. Eventually our body may start to decrease its natural production of cortisol and leave us feeling constantly fatigued. Systemic inflammation is occurring, our skin is looking horrible because we aren’t recovering properly at night (which is when our skin cells rest and repair) and due to our lack of sleep our immune systems depleted. Convinced that stress is your culprit?
So how do I deal with stress to sleep better?
Dealing with stress is easer said then done. Each person is different and different approaches need to be applied in order to get the best results. However certain sleeping patterns can be adopted to see if sleep is improved. Some of these include:
- No electronic devices 30 minutes before bed time
- Read 30mintes before you plan to go to sleep (no phone, T.V, laptop)
- No T.V in bedroom
- A warm drink before going to sleep
- 10 minute meditation before going to sleep
- Regular exercise (but not just before bed)
- Go to bed and wake up the same time everyday
- Only use your bed for sleep (don’t use it as a lounge room)
These approaches work for some and not for others. If stress is a major problem in your life I highly recommend talking to a health professional to implement strategies to deal with your stress levels. Remember sleep isn’t always one-dimensional and there is usually underlining causes to poor sleep cycles.
Post written for ‘The Beauty House’ website
* Disclaimer: My posts are not to be used to treat or diagnose health concerns and provided as information only. They should not be used as individualised treatment plans and programs. Contact your health professional to investigate what advice is best for you.