The Relationship between Insomnia and Stress
We all seem to get busier and busier every year! While being busy is not always associated with an increase in stress, it is often the outcome for the overwhelming majority.
Stress is considered a “silent killer” as we often do not know how or when it will take its toll on our body. The effects stress has on our health can be extensive. One of those effects? Insomnia.
Millions of people around the world experience insomnia, and most everyone has experienced it in some form at one time or another. There are two main forms of insomnia - the inability to fall asleep and the inability to stay asleep. Stress is a new topic of conversation in relation to short term insomnia and is considered to be a significant cause.
What Causes Stress-Related Insomnia?
A variety of factors are linked to stress. Increased work responsibility, long work hours, financial worries, marital or relationship problems, anticipation for an event, general anxiety, and lack of sleep due to children are all viable risk factors. A “stress” is basically anything that causes your fundamental balance to shift. Increased stress levels can produce certain hormones in your body that prevent you from sleeping or from having a restful night. Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night worrying about a work assignment due the next day? Have you ever been so anxious about something important that you either can’t sleep, or you wake up multiple times throughout the night? If so, then you have experienced a form of stress-related insomnia.
Why is Sleep Important?
A good night’s sleep is important to maintain and achieve a healthy lifestyle. Michele Naarcavage, president of Awake in America, tells us “without sufficient sleep, the impact of whatever situation is causing your stress can be exacerbated. Concentration, decision making, memory and reaction time are all affected by sleep deprivation.” Insomnia has also been linked to depression in some patients. Recent research also shows that there is a possible link between gastrointestinal illnesses and insomnia.
The other danger of insomnia is that people often turn to sleeping pills which can result in a possible addiction or can leave the user feeling drowsy or dizzy in the morning. While there are several prescription and over-the-counter drugs available, it is recommended to look at natural sleep-aid solutions before choosing any of the available medications.
How Do You Prevent Insomnia or Reduce its Effects?
- Exercise: regular exercise can help your body to relax.
- Avoid nicotine, especially in the evenings.
- Reduce caffeine intake throughout the day and eliminate it in the evenings.
- If you are not tired, try reading or performing some other relaxing activity before laying down.
- Reduce late night eating.
- Relax! Try yoga, meditation, quiet time or winding down 1-2 hours before bedtime whenever possible.
- Build an evening ritual to remind yourself that it is time for your body to sleep.
- Try relaxation tapes.
- Soak in a hot, relaxing bath before you go to bed.
- Set your thermostat to a cooler temperature in your bedroom.
If your insomnia persists, speak to your medical professional immediately.
Stress-related insomnia affects millions of people around the world, and with the increased stress levels of Americans, it is affecting more people each and every day. The key to reducing this type of insomnia is to attack it at the source. Stress reduction combined with healthy sleeping habits will reduce or eliminate the harmful health effects on your body.