The Connection Between Stress and SleepAbout 25% of U.S. workers say work is the most dominant source of stress in their lives, and honestly, it‚Äôs not surprising. There‚Äôs a multitude of potential stressors that can affect you while you‚Äôre at work. It could be a heavy workload, (previously) lots of travel, an overbearing boss, aggravating coworkers, an overall dissatisfaction with your position, and the list goes on. In these COVID-19 days, add the stressors of both parents working from a makeshift home office, college age kids back at home completing their course work online, parents taking shifts trying to home school their children, all the while pets are underfoot wondering why their quiet lazy days are gone. Whenever you‚Äôre exposed to stress for a prolonged period, the duration and quality of your sleep can diminish. Work-related stressors can trigger the automatic nervous system in your body to release a burst of stress hormones including cortisol ‚Äì your body‚Äôs natural alarm system. This discharge creates a surge of energy by raising your heart rate, which circulates your blood to the necessary organs and muscles to prepare your body to either take action or run away from a stressful event. This natural reaction to stress is known as the fight-or-flight response. The heightened hormone levels drop to normal once the situation passes, but if it doesn‚Äôt, that‚Äôs when trouble starts to kick in. For one, stress hormones are not conducive to achieving a relaxed state of being. Additionally, the chemicals associated with deep sleep help tame the production of these stress hormones. So when you don‚Äôt get a good night‚Äôs sleep, your body keeps releasing these hormones, making you even more stressed out. "The news may be quite negative, coronavirus anxiety can cause us to struggle to get to sleep, a raised heart rate makes it more difficult to sleep, poor sleep will make you worry more - it's a vicious circle," said James Wilson, aka The Sleep Geek, a sleep behavior and environment expert, to the Standard. To tell whether you‚Äôre too stressed to sleep soundly, here are a few signs of the work stress indicators to look out for:
- Your mind is racing
- Your heart rate is increasing
- Your muscles are tense
- You‚Äôre sweating excessively
Ways to Reduce Stress to Improve SleepNo matter whether it comes from work or your personal life, stress is a normal part of everyday living. Amidst growing concern about COVID-19 infection, health officials have provided several recommendations to help individuals protect themselves and their families. Fortunately, a growing body of evidence suggests that an additional lifestyle modification could also dramatically improve your odds of avoiding infection ‚Äì getting more sleep. That‚Äôs why it‚Äôs vitally important to ensure you‚Äôre managing it in a healthy way so you can sleep soundly. Here are some tips to help you keep stress under control and improve your slumber.
- Detect the Root Cause of Chronic Stress:This is the first action you must take to manage your stress. Once you detect the source of your discomfort, you can take steps to alleviate it. Consider scheduling a cognitive behavioral therapy session. Even in a video consultation, a counselor or therapist can help get to the bottom of your anxiety and provide ways to change your perspective on a stressful situation.
- Exercise:You can‚Äôt go wrong with exercise if you need to blow off some steam. It‚Äôs obviously excellent for your physical health, but research suggests it‚Äôs also an effective treatment for reducing symptoms of anxiety and stress. Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day. If the thought of running a treadmill for a half hour bores you to tears, find something that‚Äôs more social like an online yoga or dance class.
- Meditate: A study conducted by Harvard researchers states that mindful meditation can relieve anxiety and mental stress. The best part is that it can be done anywhere and only takes 5 to 10 minutes out of your day. Simply focusing on your breathing can help you relax and release tension in your body, making it easier for you to drift off to sleep.
- Find an at home Hobby:Interested in taking up a musical instrument? Painting? Baking? Research suggests that having a hobby outside your 9-to-5 job not only helps improve your work performance but also your stress levels. Making time for whatever activity brings you joy and relaxation can really make a difference in helping you to fall asleep.