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Does Being Stressed Make It Harder to Sleep?

woman laying in bed stressed out she can't sleep with stress written above her in red colored pencil

Like the moon and tide, sleep and stress are intrinsically linked. In conjunction with this connection, there is also a chicken or the egg relationship between sleep and stress. Put simply, the less you sleep, the more stressed you feel, and the more stressed you feel, the less you sleep. Let's chat more about stress and some simple adjustments one can make to get more high-quality shuteye.

What is Stress?

Stress is the physical, mental, and emotional reaction and response to changes and demands. Basically, stress is divided into two types: acute and chronic. Acute stress is short-term stress, whereas chronic is long-term. While acute stress is a normal part of life, chronic stress can negatively impact your health and wellbeing.

Stress in the U.S.

At one time, our 'fight or flight' response helped our ancestors act swiftly in times of danger. However, today's stressors are more abstract. In combination with the daily stress of work and life, the American Psychological Association reports that modern stress largely stems from concerns about violence, the affordability of healthcare, climate change, and politics. In other words, we've come a long, complicated way from the fear of tigers lurking in the bushes.

There is even an economic impact of stress in America. For instance, the American Institute of Stress found that:

  • Work-related stress is responsible for 120,000 deaths annually
  • Health care costs from work-related stress add up to $190 billion yearly
  • One million workers stay home each day because of stress
  • Forty-one percent of workers say stress negatively affects their productivity

Sleep, and Its Relationship with Stress

When it comes to survival, quality sleep is as critical as healthy food and clean water. It allows your brain to remove toxins that build up during the day, your body to repair tissue, and your immune system to release cytokines. If you're unfamiliar, cytokines are proteins that are responsible for immune function; they heal the body when there is trauma, infection, and inflammation.

The problem is, it's challenging to get the quality and quantity of sleep you need when you're stressed. A deep slumber tells your body to turn off stress hormone production. Some people then attempt to counterbalance the lack of sleep with caffeine. However, too much caffeine, on top of stress, can lead to another night of unrest, creating that vicious cycle.

The Physical, Physiological, and Behavioral Effects of Stress on the Body

Physical Effects

  • Bowel issues
  • Breathing problems
  • Change in sex drive
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Heartburn
  • High blood pressure
  • Lowered sperm count
  • Missing periods
  • Muscle tension
  • Sleep problems
  • Upset stomach
  • Weakened immune system

Physiological Effects

  • Anxiety
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Irritability and anger
  • Lack of motivation
  • Restlessness
  • Sadness and depression

Behavioral Effects

  • Angry outbursts
  • Drug, alcohol, and tobacco use
  • Exercising less often
  • No sex/riskier sex
  • Overeating/undereating
  • Social withdrawal

Long-term, unmanaged stress can contribute to serious health problems such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Fertility problems
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Migraines
  • Skin Conditions
  • Tension headaches

Tips and Tools for Better Sleep

The National Sleep Foundation suggests seven to nine hours of adequate sleep for adults ages 18-64. To increase the quality and ensure the appropriate quantity of your shuteye, consider:

  • Exercising throughout the day or early evening. During exercise, your body temperature rises. Experts believe it is the body's temperature drop post-exercise that helps initiate sleep. Additionally, breaking a sweat also reduces the presence of stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline.
  • Getting into a routine.Establishing a routine might take some time, but consistently going to bed and waking up at the same time— even on the weekends— helps regulate your internal clock.
  • Creating the ultimate sleep den. Your bedroom needs to be a place of relaxation, so keep it tidy. Minimize distractions and turn off notifications on your phone. The glaring light from devices can disrupt the body's circadian rhythm.
  • Incorporating relaxation techniques. Try listening to ASMR tracks, taking a bath, practicing yoga, meditating, or reading a book.
  • Listening to sleep sounds. A steady, relaxing white or pink noise can cover up jarring noises, and help you fall asleep faster.

Sleep Better, Stress Less

While sleep sounds can be helpful, wearing traditional headphones or earbuds can be uncomfortable, adding yet another challenge to falling asleep. It's for that precise reason that AcousticSheep™ developed SleepPhones® headphones, the world's most comfortable headphones for sleeping.

With a luxuriously soft headband and amazing sound quality, it's no wonder why more than 9 out of 10 customers would recommend SleepPhones® to a friend or family member. If you're interested in getting a better night's sleep and minimizing stress, visit our online store to shop our selection.

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