More than one third of the adults in America are not getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per night, according to the CDC.  Whether this is due to busy schedules or insomnia, not getting adequate sleep can cause stress to rise and quality of life to fall. But maintaining the right sleep environment, and a regular bedtime routine can stave off the effects of stress. 

The Sinister effects of Stress and Sleep Deprivation

Stress is an unavoidable facet of life.  Some stress is good, but excessive stress over a long period of time can wreak havoc on your health and way of life.  A lack of sleep can cause issues such as paranoia, mood disorders, and in some cases, even psychosis. These effects of sleep deprivation will only compound existing stress. Over a shorter period of time, stress will cause somewhat minor reactions in the body such as headaches, muscle pains, stomach issues, and most unfortunately, more sleep problems.  The stress and sleep deprivation relationship is a vicious cycle, so it is necessary to bring lots of intentionality to changing necessary habits and breaking the cycle. When stress is left unchecked for longer periods of time, it can lead to much more serious health effects including high blood pressure, diabetes and heart problems. 

How to Fight Stress with Good Sleep

To break the cycle of stress and poor sleep, the most effective approach is to address both aspects.  Mitigate stress in your life while also improving sleep habits. Fortunately, many of the tools and habits used to reduce stress can be helpful in improving sleep, and vice versa.  To improve sleep, play in to your body’s natural circadian rhythm by maximizing the amount of sunlight during the day, avoiding blue light and caffeine in the evening before bed, and sleeping and waking at the same time each day, even if you don’t feel tired.  Develop a bedtime routine which involves stress reducing activities such as easy yoga or meditation, drinking chamomile tea or taking a hot bath or shower. To address stress, make sure to get adequate exercise depending on your needs.  Walking for a half hour may be enough for some, but others will require a more vigorous workout. Practice saying no when things become too much, at work and socially, while also making time to unwind with friends.

Taking steps to improve your sleep will result in reduced stress in your day to day life.  Being well rested and free from stress will leave you feeling like you have so much time and energy on your hands.

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