How to Deal With Stress-Induced Insomnia
Insomnia is a condition typified by the inability to fall or stay asleep, regardless of how exhausted one may be. Insomnia is often accompanied by other symptoms related to lack of sleep such as foggy thinking, irritability, depression, anxiety and difficulty concentrating.
One of first and most important things to do to build a stress-proof body is to get enough sleep on regular basis.
Are you getting enough sleep?
Sleep—in addition to healthy eating, physical fitness and emotional health—is a basic condition for well-being and health.
“Insomnia is not a disease. It’s just an indicator that something is wrong,” says Peter Hauri, Ph.D., director of the insomnia program at the Mayo Clinic Sleep Disorders Center in Rochester, Minnesota.
Insomnia and Stress Hormones
Being sleep deprived can be both a cause and an effect of being stressed.
The link between stress and insomnia is really quite simple. The adrenal glands, which are located above the kidneys release “stress hormones” like adrenaline and cortisol into our bloodstream as fight or flight response to a situation perceived as stressful.
Many people experience insomnia because of over-production of stress hormones. When these hormones fail to shut off at night, it may be difficult to either fall asleep or stay asleep.
Cortisol doesn’t only affect sleep patterns; it also has a negative impact on the metabolism.
Cortisol has been linked to adrenal fatigue and weight gain, especially in the abdominal region, at times leading to obesity and medical problems such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
While stress can keep you up at night, operating on too few hours of sleep can make you less productive, more emotional, and more reactive to stressful events in your life.
On average, people need around eight hours sleep a night (although this can vary between three hours and eleven hours, depending on the person and her age).
Sleep should be as important in your everyday routine as going to work and showering. It is a critical element to your physical and mental well-being. A body without sleep is physically and mentally anguished.
If you are regularly short of sleep, then your concentration and your effectiveness suffer and your energy levels decline. You have all seen and experienced this.
Sleep deprivation diminish your effectiveness and performance, and can therefore increase stress: as your concentration wanders, you start to make mistakes.
Inability to asleep or tendency to wake up earlier as usual are signs to indicate that you are more prone to suffer from job-related stress and burnout.
As your energy declines, you become less proactive in what you do, reducing your control over events. This means that a situation that is already difficult and stressful can become worse, needing even more sacrifice to bring it back under control.
There are scientific proves that as a little as a night or two of good, sound, restful sleep may do a lot for controlling your cortisol levels and reducing your long-term risk for many chronic diseases.
What Causes Insomnia?
The National Sleep Foundation reports that 63% of American adults do not get the recommended eight hours of sleep needed for good health. It also notes that at least 15% of people in this country report chronic sleeping troubles.
There are many potential causes of insomnia, although it is usually a sign that something in our life is not right or something is out of balance.
It is thought that more than 50% of all cases of insomnia are linked to psychological causes, including depression, anxiety, worries and stress.
Sometimes it’s just general stress that affects our sleep—our body’s stress response gets triggered and stays triggered, and our body’s systems get out of balance, resulting in sleep problems.
Natural Insomnia Cures: Sleep Away Your Stress
- Create sleep- promoting environment and habits.
- Stay clear of caffeine and other stimulants. Stop drinking tea and coffee at least 6 hours before you go to sleep. Nicotine, chocolate, and sugar also act as stimulants and should be avoided.
- Keep active during the day. Get regular exercise (at least 30 minutes daily), but avoid exercise close to bedtime.
- Use relaxation techniques such as qigong, biofeedback or aromatherapy to calm your mind.
- Cultivate a worry free and problem free and sleep-friendly state of mind.
- Improve your sleeping environment. Make your bedroom conducive to a good night’s rest by investing in dark curtains to block out all light, earplugs if night noises disturb you, a comfortable mattress. Also ensure that you are neither too hot nor cold at night.
- Manage stress in your life. Learn to let go of the worries and stress of the day as soon as you get into bed. No working, sending e-mail or checking the Blackberry one last time.
- Try using visualization techniques that help you forget the trivial things and allow you to mentally escape. If you visualize yourself on a beautiful beach, you might just dream about it later!
- Use natural remedies for insomnia.
About the Author
Dr.Inese Millere , M.D. is wellness and mindful eating coach for busy women after 40 who want to be Fit, Balanced and Ageless: to manage stress, stress eating, have a healthy and joyful relationship with food and enjoy healthy living and longevity.