- Let’s face it – Stress has become an inevitable part of our lives, from professional demands, personal lives to even the snarling traffic conditions on roads; we let stress take over which in turn takes a serious toll on our health.
Even if it is just our response to daily lives, too much stress can make us tense, anxious and can very well cause sleep deprivation.
“Stress causes over-activity of the Cortisol System resulting in hypervigilance, increases in the Sympathetic Nervous system (our Fight, Flight, Fright Reaction) resulting in suppression of our normal sleep initiation processes – for example suppressing Melatonin secretion” says Dr. Irshaad Ebrahim of The London Sleep Centre Dubai. It is therefore not surprising that when we are stressed we lose sleep!
Sleep Difficulties related to stress include Insomnia (Difficulty of falling asleep) and/ or staying asleep/and waking too early. This is usually associated with poor quality sleep and daytime symptoms of tiredness and lethargy. Sleep is an important ritual of our daily lives that keeps us healthy, mentally sharp and lets us cope with challenges effectively.
“Left unchecked, long-term stress can result in Chronic sleep disruption leading to anxiety and depression and associated dysfunction of our immune system” remarks Dr Irshaad Ebrahim
How will you know that you are stressed?
There are a lot of symptoms and common signs that we do notice but fail to understand that it is nothing else but stress. Depression, sleep problems, anxiety, tension, poor concentration and apathy among many others are signs that need to be tackled. When such conditions go unnoticed and untreated for very long, it can hamper health and affect our well-being. Moreover stress and sleep deprivation are so closely linked that it is never easy to detect whether stress caused you sleep deprivation or vice-versa. No matter what the causes of both; a good behavioural and sleep program should be planned to ensure a healthy life and routine.
If you are missing out on sleep due to stress then keep a check on the following:-
- Over-indulgence: We have been tuned to become workaholics and often carry work way beyond the boundaries of our work-places. It is sometimes in ways of actual assignments carried home to work upon during night-time, attending to official calls even after ending a hectic work day and even thinking about the next day’s work pace while trying to fall asleep. If you find yourself still trying to solve problems at the end of the day, and the thoughts won’t seem to leave your mind, this can disrupt your sleep in the middle of the night as you transition between sleep stages.
- Caffeine: People under stress tend to consume significant amounts of caffeine to get a boost that gets them going or helps them make it through the day. Caffeine can actually intensify stress levels and significantly affect the amount and quality of sleep you get. Don’t let several cups of coffee become a habit to get you smooth sailing on a demanding work day.
- Extremely busy routines: We all are human beings and should work only as much our physical and mental well-being allow. Over scheduling a day with more than you can handle is bound to cause stress and rob the time you actually need to dedicate to sleep. Neither push yourself late to bed in the name of deadlines nor wake up early in the name of productivity. In fact lack of sleep will impact your potential of functioning whole-heartedly.
- Anxiety: We are habituated of thinking about the worst consequences in the event of inability to perform. There is no doubt that each of us want to deliver the best of results at work-places but it is equally important to understand that your performance is related to stress, sleep and anxiety. The more anxious you get thinking about work deadlines, the more it interferes with your sleep thereby affecting performance expectations.
Here’s what you can do to optimize minimum sleep hours required in a day to stay healthy and stress-free:
- Keep worry and stress outside your bedroom.
- Never watch TV, make calls or surf through the internet before your sleep schedule.
- Do not indulge in heavy meals, drink plenty of water throughout the day and have your dinner at least 3 hours before you intend to sleep.
- Establish a regular sleep-wake up schedule and never budge away from it, no matter the work urgency.
- Exercise regularly but never too close to bed time.
- Avoid taking naps to ensure a sound 7-8 hours of night-time sleep.
- Practice relaxation techniques like Yoga or Meditation before you sleep.
- And finally if nothing works, do not hesitate to visit a sleep specialist. There is no harm in seeking help to maintain a healthy work-life balance in order to keep stress and sleep deprivation at bay.
Multiple wake-ups and inability to sleep are worrisome and can be tackled by managing stress. Manage them now before stress starts managing your daily routines.