It is obvious that stress is inevitable in life. But it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do anything about it. This common mental condition may take a rather serious toll on our daily lives. Our minds race when we are stressed, influencing essential brain functions such as memory retention and mood. Unfortunately, our physical bodies could also be affected by stress. Our immune system falters if we don’t rest properly at night. But it isn’t the only thing that’s put out of whack by stress and lack of sleep. Those restless hours would simply add up and about 50 percent adults say that they have inadequate sleep at night, causing them to feel lazy and sluggish during the day. Although it is often said that we should sleep 7 or 8 hours per day, there’s no magic number of hours that we need to log per night. But in general, many adults could actually feel much better if they can get an additional of one or two hours of sleep per night. However, we can’t add more sleeping hours if we are just too busy dwelling with our anxieties.
In more serious cases, stress could actually rob us of sleep completely, making us more susceptible to wakefulness and insomnia at bight. Each additional stressor could make the condition much worse.
Our body switches to the parasympathetic nervous system from the more active sympathetic nervous system when we fall asleep. But, this process could be interrupted rather easily with stress. Our sympathetic system may not shut down when we are overly worried and this could cause our brain to remain hyperactive, leaving us wide awake at 2AM. This may create a rather vicious cycles if we are not careful. Stress is a strong catalyst for a series of sleepless night. We can’t sleep if we are stressed and the lack of stress could make us even more stressed. In this case, stress will intensify with time due to lack of sleep. Fortunately, there are steps we could do prevent stress from wrecking our sleep cycles.
1. Get some lavender: We should smell some lavender, because the floral scent could relax our body and improve our insomnia.
2. Perform relaxation techniques: Whether it be meditation, progressive relaxation or a few yoga poses, we should engage in a number of calming exercises to help quiet our mind so it is more likely for us to drift off to the wonderful dreamland.
3. Discard stressful thoughts: An hour before we go to sleep, we should write down things that we are feeling right now; both stressful and good thoughts. It is difficult to forcefully discard our negative thoughts consciously. Try to calm our mind, let these bad thoughts go with a smile and imagine that we wave goodbye to them. Then, we should reinforce our good thoughts by focusing on them. A happier mind could result in a more sleep-ready body.
4. Take a few deep breaths: Specific relaxation exercises may not be our thing, so we could at least take some deep breaths before we nod off. The overall inhalation and exhalation process could activate our body’s calmer parasympathetic system.
5. Consult a sleep specialist: In more serious cases, nothing of the above works, so it would be helpful if we consult professionals. Sleep therapists are trained and experienced in helping us sort through mental tension. They could guide us through the cognitive behavioural therapy, so we will be able to sleep better.