Stress and Sleep

Stress not only causes bad sleep, but the reverse is also true — poor sleep causes stress in one’s daily life. So stress and sleep are definitely intertwined

Work and daily-life challenges can definitely increase stress levels, which in turn can lead to disrupted sleep patterns. And sleep difficulties — from insomnia or other disorders — can definitely result in daytime stress.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA): “Three-fourths of adults whose sleep is affected by stress or anxiety say that their sleep problems have also increased their stress and anxiety: 54 percent say that stress or anxiety increased their anxiety about falling asleep at night, and 52 percent of men and 42 percent of women reported it affected their ability to remain focused the next day.”

Thus solving the stress and sleep conundrum requires work on both daytime and nighttime issues. On the day front, you have to figure what is causing your stress. Is it your work? Your relationships? Something in your health? Once you pinpoint the causative factor, you have to get help or change life approaches. You may have to make extremely difficult choices and changes in life directions.

On the sleep front, you need to examine your sleep hygiene — or get help to determine if you have a sleep disorder that can be treated and controlled. If you’ve just fallen into poor sleep routine habits, there are steps you can take to get back on track.

If you’re simply not sleeping long or well enough at night, then obviously sleep hygiene is the first battle line. Say you sleep five hours a night, though you want to sleep more. You can make a concerted effort to try sleeping just 15 more minutes a night until that becomes normal; then you can try adding another 15 minutes until you’re up to where you need to be. Sounds simple, but it’s definitely worth a try.

Another approach is creating a “buffer zone” between waking and sleeping. Before retiring, quit all attention-grabbing activities like TV watching, phone talking and electronic device “addiction” (tablets, phablets, cell phones, computers). Try reading with a blue-blocking light or lens. Count sheep in your own way, in other words.

Try a new approach to your bedroom. Beds should be reserved for sleep and sex. If you use yours for watching TV or other activities, your bed can become a sleep inhibitor. Some people actually fear their beds and bedrooms because they know they equate to tossing and turning all night. You have to make your bed your friend again.

Whatever the cause of your poor sleep or stress, it’s never embarrassing to admit it to yourself and others — and then seek professional help. You deserve good sleep, good health — and stress levels under control.

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