Can’t sleep because you’re feeling stressed? Stressed out because you can’t sleep? This vicious cycle is one that affects all too many of us. With busy jobs and social media pressures, it’s no wonder lots of us are dealing with the side effects of 21st-century living.
Stress and anxiety-induced sleep disorders and deprivation can cause a whole host of different health issues. That’s why working out how to sleep when stressed is key to finding a happy balance.
A sleeping pill isn’t always the answer to stress-induced sleeping problems. Taking a holistic approach to your overall health and sleeping habits will help you on your journey to improve your sleep hygiene without the need for sleep medicine. We’ve got some tips and advice on how to fall asleep, and stay asleep when you’re feeling under pressure.
The effects of stress on the body
Before we look at some solutions, what actually is stress and how does it affect us?
Stress is the body’s response to pressure or discomfort from a situation or event in our lives. When we feel the pressure rising, a stress hormone is released, triggering a ‘fight or flight’ reaction designed to protect us in dangerous situations.
However, when this pressure comes from work or social anxiety, this response isn’t helpful.
The physical effects of stress
The way we experience stress differs from person to person, however, there are a few common signs;
- Excessive perspiration
- Heavy and deep breathing
- Aches, pains or tense muscles
- Clenched jaw
- Teeth grinding
- Frequent colds or illness
- Dry mouth
- Rapid heart rate
- High body temperature
The psychological effects of stress
The effects of stress aren’t just physical. Long-term or chronic stress can have a negative impact on our mental health too.
Here are some common psychological effects of stress;
- Overly emotional
- Racing thoughts
- Difficulty focusing
- Persistent worrying
- Poor judgement
The effects of stress on health
Experiencing long-term stress can have a serious impact on our health. If gone untreated, stress can cause;
- Mental health issues
- Cardiovascular disease
- Obesity or weight loss
- Skin and hair problems
- High blood pressure
Luckily, reaching this point is easily avoided if you take control of your stress levels early on.
Common Causes of Stress
Stress can be caused by all manner of things, from financial woes to moving home, no matter how big or small it may appear from the outside.
Some common causes of stress include;
- Long working hours or unmanageable pressure at work
- Illness of a loved one
- Breakdown of relationships
- A traumatic event
If you’re losing sleep through stress, there are ways to regain control.
How Can Sleeping Reduce Stress?
Coping with a big presentation at work is a lot harder on 3 hours of sleep.
Regular, quality sleep can help to reduce stress levels and get you feeling back to your normal self. When we’re stressed, our cortisol levels rise, preventing the release of melatonin in our bodies. As you lie down and start to relax, cortisol levels drop, helping your body prepare for sleep.
By resting and restoring the body you will begin to see improvements such as better concentration, a happier outlook and higher energy levels.
How Much Sleep is Enough?
While some claim they can get by perfectly well on 4 hours of sleep, the research says otherwise. Although it’s true that different people need varying amounts of sleep, most of us need between 7 and 9 hours to function at our best.
Too stressed to sleep? Here are some tips...
Having trouble sleeping due to stress and anxiety? Here are some tips on how to lower stress levels and improve sleep;
1. Tidy your bedroom
We’ve all heard the saying ‘tidy house, tidy mind’, and it’s true that our living environment has an effect on our quality of sleep. It’s far easier to relax in a clean and tidy space. To create a zen-like, stress-free bedroom environment, go for neutral colours, hide away the clutter and introduce plants and soft textures.
2. Banish chores from the bedroom
Hands up if you’re guilty of late-night emails in bed? It’s important to create a calming space to fall asleep in. Bringing work into the bedroom makes it harder to associate this space with sleep.
3. Avoid screen time
It’s now a well-known fact that the blue light from screens interferes with our natural sleeping pattern. Banish your phone, tablet and laptop from the bedroom for at least one hour before bedtime for a peaceful slumber.
4. Swap your nightly tipple for a herbal tea
Sugar, caffeine and alcohol are all stimulants that can keep you up and disrupt your sleep throughout the night. Although it may feel like a glass of wine after dinner helps you sleep, the quality of your sleep will be affected.
Swap your nightly tipple for a warm herbal tea to soothe yourself to sleep. Chamomile has relaxing qualities, helping you to feel calm and ready for bed.
5. Relaxation Exercises and Meditation
Simple, easy yoga stretches before bed can help ease the body and mind, dispelling persistent worries. An app such as Headspace is a great introduction to mindfulness and meditation, a method many swear by for relieving stress and anxiety.
6. Take a luxurious warm bath
There’s nothing like a long, hot soak to melt your troubles away. Go the whole shebang with candles and bubbles for some serious relaxation before getting under the sheets.
7. Try soothing aromatherapy
Essential oils such as lavender are known for their calming properties. Giving your pillow a quick spray of lavender oil before bed could help calm your nerves and wind down for the night.
8. Write down your worries
If niggling thoughts and worries about the day ahead prevent you from sleeping, try writing them down in a notebook by your bed.
Sometimes the act of writing down what’s troubling us can help put things into perspective. Leave your thoughts on the page and return to them in the morning.
9. Imagine Yourself to Sleep
This may sound silly, but imagining yourself to sleep can work! Think of it like counting sheep. By focusing on a calming thought like sleeping, it’s easier to drift off.
10. Don’t just lie there
If you find yourself staring at the ceiling for more than 20 minutes, it’s time to get up and do something. Try reading a book or sipping a warm drink until you start to feel tired again.
11. Be consistent
Having a set bedtime can be difficult to balance with an active social life. However, setting yourself a regular bedtime and rising at a similar time every day helps to regulate your body clock.
12. Healthy balanced diet
Living on crisps and energy drinks in periods of stress will only impact your sleep badly and perpetuate the cycle of insomnia. Something that can improve your long-term health and regulate stress is having a nutritious, balanced diet and taking regular exercise.
13. Exercise in the morning
Going to a spin class right before bed risks raising your adrenaline levels and preventing you from slumber. Instead, do your exercise in the morning to give yourself an extra energy boost for the day ahead.
14. Get some vitamin D
Sunlight does magical things for our body clock and overall health. Try to get at least half an hour outside each day to regulate your natural sleeping pattern.
15. Seek professional help
If you’ve exhausted all options and you’re still struggling to achieve regular sleep, it may be worth going to your doctor. They will be able to check for any underlying conditions and help you find a path to recovery.
The Key to Stress-Free Sleep: The Right Mattress
Our final tip may be the most important. Your mattress could be the difference between you getting a full night’s sleep or spending the night tossing and turning.
Finding the right mattress for your body type, sleeping style, sleeping positions and preference are vital for regular, quality sleep.
We’re here to help find the right mattress for your needs, regardless of your budget. Browse our extensive mattress collection to find the perfect one to bunker down and let your worries float away.