Woman can't sleep

Don't Let Stress Disrupt Your Sleep

Sleep and stress, they may just cancel each other out. How can we expect our nervous systems to shut down when we’re a bundle of nerves? We need sleep. It keeps us healthy, it keeps us sane, it keeps us focused, it keeps our weight down. By that logic, lack of sleep is going to turn us into sick, obese, insane people with attention deficits. That certainly is not going to relax you. So what do you do to keep stress from disrupting your sleep? Read on for a few ideas.

Stress and Sleep
Not only does stress prevent sleep, it decreases its quality. In fact, according to a “Stress in America” survey, 42 % of adults report a low or fair quality sleep when affected by stress. To make matters worth, stress may not only deprive you of a good night’s sleep, it may have a more lasting effect. Recent research published in the SLEEP journal reveals that individuals who suffer from chronic stress are more susceptible to insomnia, with each stressor increasing the risk of insomnia by 19 percent.

Woman clutching head

Stress and Your Brain
Not only does stress interfere with the quality of sleep and increase the risk of insomnia, it also places the nervous system in a physical state inconsistent with sleep. When you sleep, your body switches from the active sympathetic nervous system to the more relaxed parasympathetic nervous system. When the body experiences high stress levels, the parasympathetic nervous system fails to kick in, keeping your brain in a state of hyperactivity, according to David Spiegel MD.

As if it isn’t enough that stress causes lack of sleep, it turns out lack of sleep can cause more stress. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports that nearly three quarters of adults credit sleep problems with a general increase of anxiety in their daily lives.

What Can You Do?
Wondering how you can prevent high stress from robbing you of precious sleep? Here are a few ideas:

Lavender
Studies show that lavender can be a very relaxing component of insomnia relief.

Woman doing yoga

Relaxation Techniques
There are a number of techniques that may be helpful in decreasing stress. Yoga poses, mediation, and progressive relaxation are all examples of methods of relaxation that may make sleep come more readily.

Stop Distracting Thoughts
Research shows that you can clear your mind of distressing thoughts by writing them down on a piece of paper and literally throwing the paper away. Skeptical? Worth a try!

Deep Breaths
The rhythm of inhalation and exhalation activates the body’s natural parasympathetic system. Try taking a few deep breaths in and out before hitting the sack.

See A Specialist
If all else fails, consider seeing a professional. He or she may be able to provide insights or recommend techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy to address sleeplessness.

How do you prevent stress from disrupting your nightly sleep? Let us know.

Deep breathing

The Benefits of Deep Breathing

Chances are during times of stress, one or more people around you have told you to take a deep breath in order to help you relax. Maybe you did or maybe you didn’t, but those individuals had a point. Deep breathing can do incredible things for the body. It may take some getting used to, but it’s easy to learn and the efforts can be worth it.

Let’s start with discussing how to actually do deep breathing. Close your eyes, breathe in deeply (and slowly) through your nose, hold it for a second or two, then breathe out through either your mouth or nose – whichever feels more comfortable to you – while counting to five. You can do this while sitting or lying down. Focus on your breathing, maybe repeat a mantra in your mind, or focus on something that makes you especially happy such as a destination you love. Now onto a few of the benefits.

You Can Relax
One of the worst feelings is being tense; you feel like every part of your body is in one giant knot. Deep breathing helps you relax, ease your muscles, and calm your mind.

You Can Ease Unpleasant Moods
Whether you’re scared, upset, or just plain ticked off, deep breathing can help you get past the initial stages of that mood and anything negative that may come with it to get you to a better, calmer place. This can be especially advantageous if you’re having a rough day at work. After deep breathing, you may be able to focus better on the issue at hand and may even come up with a solution if need be.

You Could Lower Your Blood Pressure
Stress can temporarily raise your blood pressure, but deep breathing can help get those numbers back to a normal level. Deep breathing on a daily basis may help you keep your numbers where they’re supposed to be, especially during times of stress.

You Can Clear Your Mind
We go through so much on a daily basis, so it’s understandable how our mind can get cluttered. Deep breathing allows you to clear your mind, refocus on the positive, and move forward in a calm and rational manner. This can be excellent in every aspect of life from home to relationships to work. A mind that isn’t cluttered is one that’s better able to be more aware and in the present moment.

You Help Your Body Overall
You’ve probably heard by now how many diseases and conditions may be made worse by stress. Considering deep breathing helps to ease your stress level and improve your mood, that, in turn, could have a positive effect on your body as a whole.

Deep breathing is all about mindfulness and getting you to a place where you feel better than you did before you started. Try out different methods and don’t overthink the process. Once you start, chances are it will become a habit you will want to keep and make a part of your daily routine.