The NHS website advises that adults should aim for eight hours of sleep per night. Of course, how much sleep is needed will vary on the individual. However, working out how much sleep your body and mind require to feel sufficiently rested is vital to your overall mental and physical health.
A whole host of reasons can cause lack of sleep, a prevalent one being stress. The connection between lack of sleep and stress is a strong one, and poor sleep can also affect your levels of stress, creating a cycle of one impacting the other.
Why Does Stress Exist?
So what is stress and how do you know if it is impacting your life?
Stress originates from a fight or flight response that humans have used to survive from potential danger throughout our evolution.
The fight or flight response radically increases the autonomic nervous system to produce hormones, including cortisol and adrenaline. The growth of these hormones causes the heart rate to increase to ensure enough blood reaches the vital organs, ready for action.
However, despite a decrease in these threats over time, this response remains, meaning that stress can prevail in less dangerous situations such as work, family or social interactions.
How to Identify Stress
Stress can affect people in a multitude of ways and can produce various mental and physical conditions depending on each person. These could include things such as a loss of appetite, eczema and being unable to sleep, as well as anxiety, racing thoughts and the inability to relax.
Most people will feel stress from time to time, and this cannot be helped. However, if this is how you feel the majority of the time you are awake, this is a cause for concern. An accumulation of stress can have a long term negative impact on your body and mind.
The Cycle of Stress and Sleep
The web between body and mind is a complex one, and often when one is affected, so is the other. This strongly applies in the link between stress and sleep as one can impact the other.
For example, stress can cause you to lie awake at night, worrying about the preceding morning. In turn, the lack of sleep the next day will only enhance these feelings of anxiety about the future as your body and brain have not been able to sufficiently rest.
How Does Stress Cause A Lack of Sleep?
Stress reduces the quality of sleep as well as the length of a deep slumber. In extreme cases, stress can cause sleep deprivation through the intense level of alertness, meaning winding down to sleep can be prolonged. Troubling and racing thoughts can often overwhelm the individual and keep them awake with no solution of soothing their worried state.
If you are concerned that you may be suffering from a sleep disorder, you can read further information here.
How Does A Lack of Sleep Cause Stress?
As mentioned, an inadequate amount of sleep can cause you to feel an increased level of stress. Feeling tired can change the way you perceive situations and therefore have lasting impacts on you and those around you, which only elevates feelings of uncertainty and pressure.
Many mental health charities, including Mind.org, emphasise the importance of gaining enough sleep to reduce levels of stress.
The Importance of Maintaining Healthy Levels of Stress
With the potential of stress preventing reasonable levels of sleep and vice versa, knowing how to keep control of your levels of stress is integral to ensuring you are happy and healthy.
Improving Your Lifestyle
If you can reduce your levels of stress in the evening, this could have a significant impact on how quickly and how well you fall asleep. Establishing a relaxing bedtime routine is integral to winding down stress levels and preparing your body for sleep.
This could include a comforting hot drink, a warm bath, reading a book or listening to a podcast. Using meditation can also support you to let go of stressful thoughts and can be used throughout the day to keep on top of stress levels.
Taking CBD oil for sleep can support you in feeling more relaxed, which in turn, will help you to fall asleep. For more information about taking CBD oil, discover more about what happens when you first take CBD oil.
If you cannot improve your levels of sleep, it is vital you seek out the support of a medical practitioner who will be able to help you further.
Ensuring you are acquiring a sufficient amount of high-quality sleep is integral to your overall mental and physical health. By reducing stress levels, you can improve your sleep, and by ensuring you have enough sleep, you can gain a healthier perspective of stressful situations.