Stress and Sleep

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Stress and Sleep


One of the biggest factors affecting our sleep is STRESS.  Stress has a way of eating deep into our system, causing changes in our physical and mental health as well as negatively affecting the dynamics and quality of our sleep.

Quality sleep is essential for a balanced life. During sleep, the body rests, cleanses and purifies itself. It repairs, rebuilds, grows and heals itself. Sleep relieves the stresses, strains and tensions accumulated throughout the day. The need for adequate and quality sleep cannot be over-emphasized.

If you don’t sleep enough at night, your body boosts its levels of stress hormones because the brain chemicals connected with deep sleep are the same ones that tell the body to stop the production of stress hormones.  It follows therefore that when you don’t sleep well, your body keeps pumping out the stress hormones and the next day you feel more stressed! This can lead to a very vicious cycle because the following night you are likely to find it harder to fall asleep because of the amount of stress hormones in your system.

It can be very frustrating lying down in bed, exhausted and yet unable to sleep.  An extended period of this type of pattern of can lead to severe sleep deprivation which can put the body in a high-risk state. If you frequently wake up in the middle of the night, your body may be signaling that it is overwhelmed with stress. To improve the quality of your sleep, you must take control of your stress level as bedtime approaches.


The following are some steps to take:

  1. Listen to calm, relaxing music- Music has a powerful ability to counteract the body’s stress response by slowing the pulse, lowering blood pressure and decreasing the amount of stress hormones.  Nature sounds like rippling water and classical tunes are beautiful lullabies.
  2. Take a cup of night-time tea- This helps the body relax and rest and prepare for a good night’s sleep. Herbs like chamomile, peppermint, lemon balm and passionflower are all well-known stress relievers with properties that calm the nervous system, making them a great choice of drink 1-2 hours before bedtime.
  3.   Practice relaxation strategies-  Deep breathing, positive meditation and progressive muscle relaxation helps calm the body and rid the mind of anxiety.
  4.   Limit the use of electronic devices- Turn off most electronic devices while preparing for bed because the light from these digital devices can throw the body’s internal clock off.
  1. Exercise – This is a great stress reliever which improves the quality of sleep. However, it is best done 3-4 hours before bedtime because an intense exercise regimen is likely to stimulate your body invigorating and keeping it awake.
  1. Use calming fragrances(Aromatherapy)- Calming scents and fragrances can help ease stress, making you feel both calm, relaxed and ready to snooze.

As often as possible, go to bed early and do a minimum of 7hours. If you go to bed after midnight you have already missed 2 hours of your ‘body repair’ time.  An increased incidence of headaches sagging personality, musculoskeletal injuries and even neurological disorders can be the result.

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