When Stress and Rest Collide: Tips for Better Sleep

What have you got to worry about?  Pretty much everything which is consistent for virtually every human being on the planet.  Whether your concerns are financial or social, health difficulties or career there is no limit to the things that can create stress in our lives. Complicating our ability to manage stress even further are hectic lifestyle choices such as commuting, after work freelancing and other commitments that keep us high on activity and low on much needed down time.

Did you know that some kinds of stress are actually good for you?  The term ‘Eustress’ refers to the “good” kind of stress that we feel when we are excited.   It’s a euphoric feeling of happiness and vitality but still elevates our mood and physiology and is processed as stress inside the body.  An “Acute Stress” episode is brief and usually circumstantial (for instance dropping a plate can cause acute momentary stress).   Chronic Stress however is the wrong kind of stress with comes with a host of negative health consequences.


While we may enjoy the active lifestyle and the adrenaline of having many things to occupy our time there is a clinical impact on our health.  It impacts both our psychological well being as well as our physiological health. Stress is a modern health crisis but where we first begin to notice the effect is in the quality of sleep we receive.  When we simply cannot turn off the thoughts or emotions that we have percolated throughout the day at night when we need to rest and rejuvenate.   That’s where the problem begins.

How Does Your Body Process Stress

Do you always know when you are stressed?  Symptoms of increased stress levels manifest themselves differently in different people. We know we feel uneasy, perhaps tired and our mood can certainly be impacted when we are stressed.  Feeling disagreeable?  Chances are that it’s due to a combination of stress and possible sleep deprivation.

The clinical symptoms of stress can be broken into two groups a) psychological stress or mood disorders and b) physiological changes and indicants. Do you know how to read the signs if you are experiencing moderate to high levels of stress?

Emotional Effects of Stress

  • Cognitive impairment and difficulty with focused thought and problem solving
  • A feeling of being overwhelmed and unable to relax
  • Moderate to high anxiety
  • Anger or disagreeableness and depression
  • Worry and rumination over stressors

Physiological Effects of Stress

  • Hunger and emotional eating
  • Headache
  • Increased heart rate
  • Insomnia

How Does Stress Impact Sleep Quality

Did you know that 65% of Americans lose sleep due to stress while 16% of Americans suffer from stress induced chronic insomnia? Those are some pretty significant numbers according to the Better Sleep Council who monitors health implications of stress and sleep deprivation.

Stress hormones include cortisol and corticotrophin releasing hormones which actively disrupt sleep.  It makes it difficult to retain a state of deep sleep and patients with chronic stress suffer acute somnia as a result.  People who are naturally prone to anxiety disorders will experience a higher degree of sleep disruption according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

It quickly becomes a vicious cycle for patients living with high levels of stress. Their inability to sleep results in fatigue which exacerbates the situation making the individual more susceptible to mood fluctuations, high emotionality and an inability to process stress calmly.   When you aren’t rested your immune system is also compromised which can make someone more susceptible to flu or colds or other more significant health concerns such as heart attack or stroke.

Get Sleeping Again!

You can’t control stress but you can work on tools to better manage your stress so that it does not create a negative impact on your health.  Here are ten tips to turn around your sleep deficit.

  1. Avoid caffeine and stimulants at least four hours before bed.
  2. Hydrate well with water.  It helps to regulate blood pressure.
  3. Eat nutritiously and on schedule to maintain steady blood glucose levels.  This will help you moderate your mood better and prevent conflicts.
  4. Evaluate your bed, pillows and mattress and explore a better set up if it is time to replace your furnishings for better quality sleep.
  5. Create a “worry book” and journal your concerns into the book.   Get them out of your head so that you can focus on falling asleep.
  6. Deep breathing and yoga stretching exercises are effective at reducing muscular tension.
  7. Unplug and leave your phone, laptop and tablet out of the bedroom for a better night of rest.
  8. Adjust the temperature of your room slightly cooler.  Studies have shown that temperature frequently impacts the quality of sleep that individuals receive.
  9. Create a sleep schedule and stick to your routine.
  10. Seek medical advice if the problem persists steadily beyond one week.

Stefanie Gomez

Stefanie Gomez is associated with Essentia, manufacturers of the organic mattresses. She understands the importance about green/Healthy living hence she generally blogs about eco-friendly lifestyle, health/wellness, healthy and sustainable living options. She is also passionate about reading, photography, cooking, gadgets and yoga.

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