It’s no secret that people are likely to suffer from a (sometimes significant) loss of sleep due to stress, anxiety, and the pressures of day to day life.
While most people feel overwhelmed, tired, and wiped out because of stress and anxiety the paradoxical thing about this is that it doesn’t help us fall asleep any faster. Instead, stress and anxiety have a nasty little habit of keeping us up, robbing us of quality sleep, and running us through the ringer even worse for wear.
To better understand the connection between stress and sleep, as well as to figure out how to sleep when stressed – the matter how overwhelmed you might feel – we have put together this quick guide.
Let’s get right into it!
Stress and Sleep
According to data from the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research, just over 40 million Americans are dealing with sleep disorders on a nightly basis – many of them suffering from low quality sleep because they are stressed out, anxious, and overwhelmed.
While everyone will deal with a “normal” amount of stress throughout the course of their lives – with some stress being completely healthy – there are individuals dealing with an onslaught of stress that gets so bad it messes with their underlying biochemistry.
When we feel stressed our brains trigger a release of powerful biochemicals in preparation for “fight or flight” responses. These hormones (normally) subside after the external stress has been eliminated, but if you’re living in a perpetual state of stress and overwhelm these chemical levels may never fade away.
This keeps you “amped up” and in a state of hyperarousal – making it next to impossible to fall asleep.
Why You May Lose Sleep
Over time, this excessive flood of stress hormones are going to begin to wear down on your overall nervous system responses.
You’ll feel aggravated, you’ll feel overwhelmed, you’ll feel pressured, and you’ll feel even worse and worse on a day-to-day basis – with your blood pressure elevated, your circulatory and cardiovascular system stressed out, and increased levels of cortisol wreaking havoc on your body with access inflammation.
It doesn’t take long from there to see negative impacts to your overall digestive capabilities, which means you’re going to start packing on extra pounds, and that in turn leads to even more stress – both mental and physical.
The cycle rinses and repeats over and over again and it makes it next to impossible to get help to sleep at night when you are in this stress spin cycle.
Thankfully though, there are ways you can approach this problem that allow you to drift off to sleep much faster than you would have been able to otherwise while reducing your overall feelings of stress and anxiety at the same time.
3 Ways to Help Sleep Better
Below we highlight three of the best ways to help you sleep better when you’ve been dealing with loss of sleep due to stress, anxiety, and overwhelmed.
These are some of the best tips to help sleep, a lot easier, including breathing techniques for stress elimination, how to relax mind before sleep, and how to kind of “exercise” your mind and your brain so that you are a lot more resistant to stress and stress hormones going forward.
Best of all, you can begin using these techniques tonight – and every night from here on out – to radically transform the way you deal with stress and sleeplessness moving forward.
Breathing techniques for stress elimination work wonders whether you are looking to eliminate stress in the moment or right before bed.
Controlling your breath (like you would when going through guided meditation) helps you to focus your mind, push out external sources of stress, and really take control of your feelings and your emotions in a way that can be difficult when going through life on autopilot.
The simplest breathing exercise you might want to try out involves inhaling slowly for a five second count, holding your breath for another five second count, and then exhaling slowly for another five second count.
Repeat the process for as long as it takes to control your mind and center yourself, but usually it will only take about two or three minutes until you feel dramatically better.
Do this right before bed and you’ll find that you drift off to sleep without a lot of headache or hassle.
A Screen Ban
Plenty of people check their devices or watch TV before they go to bed, but the blue like that these modern screens produce significantly hinders our ability to fall asleep and may even stress your body out more than you realize right now.
This specific light wavelength works to physically restrain the production of melatonin in your body. Melatonin is the hormone we need to control our normal sleep/wake cycle (sometimes referred to as the circadian rhythm), and when it goes haywire because of overexposure to blue light it’s almost impossible to fall asleep and even harder to stay asleep.
By stopping yourself from even looking at a modern device or watching TV for at least 30 minutes before you go to bed – and keeping them out of the bedroom entirely – you won’t have to worry as much about blue light wreaking havoc on your sleep schedule or stressing you out.
Reading Before Bed
Piles of research has been conducted on whether or not reading before bed is an effective way to fall asleep faster, with each new individual study showing that it is one of the best ways to help your mind sort of calm itself – even when you’re dealing with stress.
There may not be anything more effective to eliminate stress than a bit of relaxing reading before bed. You can read pretty much anything and everything you like (nonfiction or fiction) to make your visit with The Sandman go a little faster, though you’ll want to read a physical book or on a device that uses electronic ink as opposed to those that use LED/LCD screens (like we highlighted above).
Read for about 30 minutes or so before you head to bed and you’ll find that you have plenty of mindfulness to help sleep come a lot easier than it would have previously.