Understanding the Link Between Stress and Sleep, Long Term Effects of Stress, and Resulting Impact of Stress on Sleep and Performance
Stress is a natural reaction that exists in every living being, but it has several negative implications. While stress enables animals to cope with risky and critical circumstances, it has a variety of detrimental consequences for humans when overexposed to stress. Read on to learn more about how stress acts on our bodies to impact sleep quality and performance.
Stress can have a significant impact on both the quality and quantity of sleep. It can lead to difficulty falling asleep, as well as more frequent awakenings during the night. Stress can also lead to less restful sleep, resulting in daytime fatigue and decreased productivity. In addition, stress can exacerbate existing sleep disorders, such as insomnia and sleep apnea. The good news is that some simple lifestyle changes can help to reduce stress and improve sleep quality.
When we are stressed, our bodies go into fight-or-flight mode, which can make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep. This can lead to fatigue and sleep deprivation, which can impact our performance at work, school, or in other areas of our lives. If you are struggling to sleep because of stress, there are some things you can do to help yourself relax and get a good night’s sleep.
The Link Between Stress and Sleep
Stress has a lot of negative connotations, yet it’s a natural reaction that people and animals have developed to help them cope with crucial or hazardous circumstances.
Humans’ autonomic nervous system (ANS) may produce hormones like adrenaline and cortisol in response to stress. These hormones increase heart rate to better circulate blood to essential organs and muscles, ready the body to respond quickly if required.
The fight-or-flight response was critical for human survival throughout the early phases of evolution.
Even circumstances that aren’t life-threatening might activate the fight-or-flight reaction nowadays. Problems in work, for example, or issues in relationships.
Long Term Effects of Stress
While it is natural to feel anxious at times, chronic stress may lead the nervous system to remain in a state of heightened arousal for lengthy periods. Being in this condition for an extended time might have a detrimental effect on one’s physical and mental health.
Stress may result in sleep loss as one of its effects. Constantly being on high alert might delay the start of sleep and result in fast, nervous thoughts at night. Inadequate sleep might then contribute to more stress.
According to a National Sleep Foundation poll of 2011, 43% of persons aged 13–64 have admitted to lying awake at least once in the last month owing to stress, and it tends to increase at a rapid rate.
Results of Stress on Sleep
The fascinating thing about sleep and stress is that they are mutually reinforcing. Sleep deprivation results in stress, and stress results in insomnia. While this connection is much too complicated to unravel, experts are working diligently to determine the effect of stress on sleep. Consider what scientists have learned so far about stress and its influence on sleep.
Sleeping Problems: Stress might lengthen the time it takes to fall asleep. Individuals who are under a great deal of stress are more susceptible to insomnia, a common sleep problem.
Alternate Sleep Architecture: This term relates to the sleep structure. According to scientists, stress may impair a kind of sleep known as slow-wave sleep. This kind of sleep is critical for mental and physical wellness. Stress also has an effect on REM sleep, which may diminish or increase in intensity during times of stress.
Nightmares: When you are stressed, it is usual to experience stress dreams or even nightmares.
Because the brain controls the endocrine system, variations in brain activity may affect our emotions, reproduction, and blood sugar metabolism. That is why it is unsurprising to see that when our stress levels are up, we have difficulty sleeping.
Results of Stress on Performance
35.2 percent of individuals in the United States receive fewer than 7 hours of sleep every night, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This might result in a sleep deficiency, which can lead to long-term physical and mental health issues.
Although the precise significance of sleep is unknown, research has demonstrated that it aids a variety of biological functions. Physical changes, such as muscular healing, and mental processes, such as focus, are examples of these.
Stress may cause sleep disturbances by disrupting the body’s hormonal equilibrium. Normal stress levels are beneficial to the body since they push us to perform harder and concentrate better. However, this is only true if the stress is just temporary. Stress may have the opposite impact if it lasts too long, causing issues with digestion, memory, focus, and sleep.
When we are confronted with a stressful circumstance, our bodies produce stress hormones such as noradrenaline, adrenaline, and cortisol. The body’s flight or fight response is triggered by the same chemicals. The body starts to relax once there is no external danger and the hormones have subsided.
However, the body might occasionally stay in the same uncomfortable posture, and this stress on the neurological system harms general health. Blood pressure rises as a result of chronic stress, putting a load on the heart and circulatory system. Breathing and pulse are also affected, and you’re constantly hyperventilating.
Impact on Physical and Mental Health
Chronic stress may cause neck pain and headaches by causing our muscles to become tense. It’s only natural that these consequences impede us from giving it our all, whether at work or in our personal lives. Weight gain is caused by an increase in inflammation and high levels of cortisol. It’s tough to lose weight when you have poor digestion and a buildup of toxins in your system.
Anxiety and stress may lead to emotional eating, which can lead to a variety of other health issues. Acid reflux and heartburn are frequent symptoms for persons who are under a lot of stress. This is due to an increase in stomach acid production.
Studies Relating to the Impact of Stress on Sleep and Performance
At the University of Indonesia, students of different segments were surveyed and their sleep was analyzed to arrive at a Poor Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) for each respective subgroup.
It demonstrates that the majority of students in each cluster, more than 70%, had poor sleep quality. Overall, 76.4 percent of pupils had poor sleep quality. The percentage of poor sleep quality in the clusters of health and scientific technology are almost identical, at 75.3 percent and 74 percent, respectively. While a social humanities cluster with a rate of 82.7 percent had the worse sleep.
Another search also finds out stress levels of Students at the University of Indonesia get an overview of theirs. The findings of the sleep quality evaluation are quite similar to the amount of stress. Each cluster also has a mean incidence of moderate to severe stress of more than 70%. Overall, 76.6 percent of pupils had moderate to severe stress levels. Similarly, poor sleep quality and moderate to severe stress levels are dominated by a large social humanities cluster, which accounts for 84 percent of the total, with the fraction of health and scientific technology accounting for just 0.6 percent of the whole. As you can see below:
How to Reduce Stress Levels from Daily Life
Now that we have identified a link between stress and sleep, it is vital to understand how to address stress to improve sleep and performance. Many individuals might increase the length and quality of their sleep by decreasing their stress levels in the evening before bed. The following lifestyle adjustments may assist in stress reduction:
5 Easy Changes You Can Make To Remove Stress and Improve Sleep and Performance
Because it enables you to become more aware of the present moment, this relaxation method is becoming more popular. As a consequence, you become more aware of your inner thoughts and sensations. We can teach the mind to respond without being overwhelmed by emotions by meditating. Before going to bed or first thing in the morning is the greatest time to practice mindfulness.
One of the most effective stress relievers is physical exercise. It is a valuable tool for enhancing emotional and physical well-being. Exercise amplifies the effects of other stress-relieving techniques you’re doing to enhance sleep and performance. Physical exercise may help to alleviate stress and anxiety symptoms. Exercise has a direct influence on enhancing the quality of sleep in those over the age of 40, according to the study.
You may effectively lower stress levels by engaging in high-intensity or moderate exercise.
Set Realistic Goals and Expectations
It’s OK — and good — to acknowledge that you cannot be successful at everything all at once. Keep an eye on what you can control and focus on accepting what you cannot.
Respect Your Value
The more your actions mirror your convictions, the more fulfilled you will feel, regardless of how hectic your life may be. Consider your values while selecting activities.
It’s OK to say “No” to time and energy demands that may cause you undue stress. You are not always required to live up to others’ expectations.
Wrapping Up The Discussion on Stress, Sleep, and Performance
Stress has a negative impact on sleep quality and performance. This is why it is important to find ways to reduce stress in your life. Both a lack of sleep and stress have the potential to cause long-term mental and physical health problems. It is critical for those who are struggling with stress to discover the most effective methods of reducing stress and living better lives. There are many ways to deal with this, such as exercise, meditation, and spending time with loved ones. Find what works for you and stick with it. With regular practice, you will be able to reduce the amount of stress in your life and improve your sleep quality and performance.
The most straightforward to get a handle on managing your stress is to know yourself and your body. Knowledge is power. By better understanding yourself and your body, you can unlock your best self and mitigate stress while improving sleep through proper lifestyle adjustments. HealthCodes DNA’s genetic wellness testing services coupled with lifestyle health coaching and consultations will provide critical information that’ll help you learn yourself to begin minimizing the impacts of stress on your sleep, performance, and overall well-being.