Stress wreaks havoc on sleep!

Posted on Nov 4 2015 - 5:04pm by Samantha Clark

Feeling like you’re constantly on the go? Your to-do list has a million and one things to do on it and it just won’t. stop. growing? Moving house? have a deadline to meet? car broke down? had a fight with a friend?

Stress of some form another is inevitable and we each have different tolerance levels in which to cope with what comes our way daily. Some of us are able to mount various forms of stress until we break down, for others it’s a completely different story. Whatever it is, or however you feel you can cope, your body may think differently. One sure sign that you’re struggling is the quality and/or lack of sleep you’re getting.

Our busy and hectic lifestyles mean that our raised levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) are at the point where our bodies and minds can no longer determine which situations require the fight or flight mode and therefore we find ourselves in a constant ‘state of panic’. The stresses of our everyday lives in overscheduling, constantly thinking, always on the go and not allowing ourselves plenty of respite means we’re carrying our bad habits to bed. Though it doesn’t end there. Once up again the following day, our schedules are as demanding the day before and we find ourselves in a vicious circle.

Ways in which to reduce stress:

Reduce your caffeine intake. Caffeine can actually increase the feelings of stress; we tend to consume more caffeinated products when we’re stressed in order to feel readily prepared to tackle the day’s tasks and see us through to night. However, caffeine can raise blood pressure, make your heart beat faster and make you dehydrated, symptoms which are likely to be exacerbated if you’re feeling different to normal as your ability to cope with the effects of caffeine is down to your ability to tolerate it. If you’ve had a very rough night’s sleep or you’re feeling a little peaky your ability to tolerate your usual caffeine intake is likely to be compromised.  Did you know? Caffeine can stay in your system for up to 7 hours? Therefore, avoid any further caffeinated products from 3pm if you’re struggling to sleep and/or are under more stress than usual. If you want a hot drink try camomile, jasmine or green tea to help relax you and warm you up. We highly recommend the Twinings Pyramid range which has dried leaves as opposed to infusions for a richer, softer taste.

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Block out some time for you. Even if it means you’ve got to plan it! Wind-down time is essential in feeling ready to sleep. If you’re prone to anxious feelings avoid watching anything that is likely to increase adrenaline such as action, horror or psychological thrillers as movies/programmes like this are likely to affect your ability to get to sleep, even if you feel like you’re ok. Instead, opt for something mind-numbing that doesn’t require too much concentration.

Why not try out an adult colouring book? Whether you need to re-focus or wind-down, colouring books are a huge hit amongst, well, all adults. Sales for adult colouring books have gone through the roof as many have found the effects of colouring an intricate pattern meditative, relaxing, allows you to have your moment of quiet and most even find it rewarding.

Pick up a book: There’s nothing quite like losing yourself in a good paperback book. When reading, fiction in particular, you get an element of escapism, allowing yourself to immerse yourself in someone else’s world. This can have the ability to divert your thoughts from analysing your own life to getting lost in someone else’s.

Teach yourself Mindfulness. Mindfulness is a learned technique in which you’ll be able to focus on the present moment; aware of your own feelings, thoughts and surroundings. It’s a technique that is likely to make you more self-aware and considered. It’s really a bit of a meditative process in which you take yourself out of the current situation and place yourself in a more present one. But it’s not something that is likely to come easy. It’s likely to take practice.

This one-moment meditation video by Martin Boroson is a great place to start. It’s about taking a minute to re-focus your mind. In this instance, focusing on your breathing.

The mindfulness concept could also be applied to other aspects of your life rather than an allocated ‘time’. Take for example, mealtimes. You could use the time you sit down to eat to consider what it it you’re eating and re-establish tastes and textures. But most importantly this process is fantastic for understanding whether you’re actually hungry or even when you’ve become full. As we’re on a constant state of go, we have a tendency to eat at specific times and eat specific sized meals because the day dictates us to, however, this technique can aid in eating to how we feel instead- ideal for those who struggle with portion control.

If meditation is something you’ve considered and want to do more of, take a look at the Headspace App which is termed the trainer for your mind.

These are just some ideas on ways in which to combat the effects stress play on your sleep. We’ve more ideas on stress combating for next week.

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