Human beings require certain things to survive, like water and food. One of our less obvious necessities for life is sleep. Unfortunately, according to Kathy Whitney of Vanderbilt University Medical Center, at least 25% of all Americans do not get enough sleep.1 A variety of factors causes sleep deprivation, and one of the main factors is stress. Here’s why stress affects sleep, and a few tips to make it stop affecting yours.
What is stress?
When your body experiences a demand, stress is your body’s way of responding to it. For example, if you feel very busy, stress kicks in to give you the energy to get more done and be more active. In small doses, this can be a very good thing for productivity. But if it’s all the time, the negative impact due to stress can be overwhelming. When stress causes harmful damage to your physical and emotional health, then steps need to be taken to decrease it.
What causes stress?
There are four categories of stress that humans encounter.2 There’s survival stress that occurs when you are responding to danger, like if you need to run away from something harmful. This is what is known as a “fight or flight” response. There’s internal stress that is a response to uncertainty that may be a part of life, like worrying about the price of stocks you may own, or if you’re worried that you may have to move soon. There’s environmental stress, like being stressed because of a big project’s deadline that is coming up at work. This kind of stress is more situational than internal stress. Finally, there’s stress caused by overworking and fatigue, which is sometimes called bodily stress. This is a kind of stress that builds up over time, such as from working 13 hour days for multiple days in a row.
How this stress hurts sleep
If you are suffering from stress, you may be lying in bed worrying while you’re supposed to be falling asleep. This worrying can cause you to feel anxious and as a result, your mind can’t be calmed down in order to relax and drift off to sleep. If the stress continues, the chances are that every time you try to fall asleep, your stress is keeping you up, and may be leading to more stress from tiredness. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body increases its stress hormones, because the chemicals in your brain that are connected to deep sleep are the same chemicals that stop stress hormone production. Therefore, lack of sleep can even exacerbate stress and create a vicious cycle that no one should be trapped in.3
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The condition of stress is a complex condition that a variety of factors affects, including emotional, biological and cognitive components. When stress is excessive, there can be both short-term and long-term consequences on a person’s health, and sleep is an important part of curbing those effects.4
If you combine high levels of stress with lack of sleep, detriments can start to appear. Poor memory function, decreased cognitive function, reduced performance and decreased alertness can occur when a lack of sleep is present. Stress can lead to adverse effects on the immune system, and psychological conditions may be more acute due to lack of sleep. Serious long-term stress and lack of sleep may lead to physical deterioration in the form of heart disease, high blood pressure, and stomach issues over long periods.5
How to combat stress’ effects on sleep
Stress affects your quality of sleep, and therefore, doing what you can to combat it is a good idea for the sake of your health. If you’re dealing with internal stress, ask yourself if there’s anything you can do about what you’re worried about. If the answer is “yes,” take steps to eliminate what’s worrying you. If the answer is “no,” resolve to not worry about what you can’t control. If you’re dealing with environmental stress, such as overworking yourself, make sure to set aside relaxation time to recoup from what may be contributing to stress. For example, if your job is a little stressful, make a plan to reduce the stress it may help to cause.
As you work on reducing the stress in your life, you should also work on creating a more sleep-friendly approach to bedtime. Going to bed stressed doesn’t lead to a good night’s sleep and will not help you feel better mentally or physically. One of the things you can do to create a peaceful bedtime for yourself is to use aromatherapy and essential oils to promote calm before sleeping.
Aromatherapy or essential oil therapy is the use of essential oils, which are aromatic compounds from plants or herbs, to benefit the mind, body, and soul. This is a practice that has been around for thousands of years and has been used by the Greeks, Egyptians, Chinese, and Indians. Today, spas, hospitals, massage centers, and other businesses use aromatherapy to help its visitors and customers.6
You can benefit from essential oils as a way to encourage sleep with a personal essential oil diffuser like MONQ’s Sleepy Blend personal diffuser. Their essential oil diffusers are unique in that they require no mixing, mess or stress. They also contain no artificial ingredients, tobacco, nicotine, GMOs, gluten, propylene glycol, or propylene glycol. MONQ’s personal diffusers are not tested on animals. Right before bed, all you have to do is inhale the Sleepy blend through your mouth and exhale through your nose. That’s it. The Sleepy Blend essential oil mixture of chamomile, kava, and lavender is specially created to help you fall asleep and stay asleep.
The chamomile essential oil used in MONQ’s Sleepy Blend originates in the United States. Not only is chamomile known for being a powerful natural calming agent that can combat irritation, but it can also potentially help to lower blood pressure. Then there’s kava, which comes from Vanuatu, a South Pacific nation. This essential oil has been around for hundreds of years and not only relaxes you but can help calm anxiety and relieve pain. Finally, lavender is not only pleasant smelling but is also great as a natural sedative. It’s been known to be used to relieve muscle discomfort, help with bee stings and minor cuts, ease skin issues such as eczema, relieve motion sickness, and much more. All of these essential oils together, along with others like bergamot, lemongrass, and marjoram create a potent essential oil mixture that’s perfect for bedtime.
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