Just one hundred years ago the word stress was such a vague word. Sure everyone had stress, but it was not a leading cause of many debilities, such as those common today.
Nowadays, stress is blamed for everything from depression, to homicide, and a wide range of things too numerous to mention. Even today, with people living more comfortable lives, stress continues to take a major toll on many facets of life, most importantly your health. One of the major body processes stress takes its toll on is your sleep. Sleep deprivation can lead to anything such as irritability, to premature ageing, to depression. Follow us to examine the sleep- stress connection.
Stress and Sleeplessness
Many people attribute their sleeplessness to stress, a demon on many ails. Quite often when you lie awake, tossing and fidgeting, it could be stress from the day’s activities keeping you at bay. You may be worried about failing to pay your bills, may have an incident from work on your mind, or be burdened with the thought of undertaking a giant task the following day. All these relate to stress, and will keep you awake. One of the main chemical changes that occur in response to stress is the release of a hormone called cortisol. Indeed, cortisol is a very important hormone, one which is needed to help the body function normally. But cortisol release at night is a bad thing; this is because cortisol puts your body in a state to be ready for more work. The result is that instead of winding down, your body may be preparing to go back to work.
Knowing when you are approaching your stress limit can be easy if you know what to look for; however, the signals are mixed at best. The best approach is to analyse the presence of multiple symptoms, which then conclude if you are being overloaded, or it’s just a coincidence. Common stress signals include;
- Loss of concentration
- Extreme anxiety
- Feeling very irritable
- Compulsive eating or loss of appetite
- Increased use of recreational drugs ( cigarettes, alcohol, caffeine)
- Decrease in libido ( sex drive)
- Isolation from others
- Depressive symptoms
It is important if you notice the presence of multiple signals to take necessary corrective measures. These can be as simple as a few days off from work, but can pay big dividends.
Sources of Stress
At best, this list may include thousands upon thousands of triggers; some may be minor to some people, but enough to hit the trip switch for others. Regardless, once you have located certain sources of your stress, you can and must do all within your power to make a change. Causes of stress may be caused either by external influences, or by yourself. Generally speaking there are five categories of stressors, being;
- Stress caused by big life changes- this can include having a baby, getting married or changing jobs. Although some people transition easily, others may find these tasks daunting.
- Stress caused by daily routines- these stressors include the commute to and from work, the stress of having to pay bills while being financially unable, and finding balance of time between family and other responsibilities
- Unrealistic expectations- these types of stresses include complacency, health issues, work stress and addictions.
- Interpersonal stress- this is the most unsettling source of stress for many people and includes triggers such as marital conflicts, problems with communication, anger issues, dealing with aging parents and much more.
When it comes to tips for managing your stress, there are as many as there are triggers. More often than not, however, they do not work; this leads to the conclusion then, just avoid your trigger, right? Well, to an extent that would work, but it’s also true that it’s impossible to avoid all triggers. For example, if you have marital problems, what would you do, leave your spouse every time a disagreement ensues? Not practical at all. Rather, follow these general guidelines to help you control your stressors;
- Learn to harness stress- this may sound counterproductive, but stress has its benefits. By using stress at correct times of the day, you are likely to get more accomplished in the same or lesser time. This is because cortisol puts your body in a position to handle more work. Use wisely
- Do not bring work home- if you and the boss had an exchange of words, don’t bring it home, it will only complicate home matters. Instead, talk about it with your spouse/ family members and don’t sound arrogant or hasty.
- Schedule your day- if you fail to accomplish something, you may feel unsettled in bed, causing sleeplessness. Attempt all tasks, or leave in a state you are comfortable with. Do not overextend yourself.
- Make a conscious effort to change- if you constantly find yourself triggered by bills, approach it another way; make a conscious effort to conserve the following month. Unplug your electrical devices, or turn down the heater. It can go a long way, giving you less to worry about in your sleep.
Lastly, make your bed conducive to sleep. Sleep in comfy, dark encouraging room, far far away from bills and the world.
Category: Sleep Disorders