National Stress Awareness Day: how stress can affect your sleep

How well did you sleep last night? If the answer is not that well, do you know why?

The Sleep Council performed a study back in 2011, which revealed that nearly half of us Brits admit to only getting six hours’ sleep a night. Even more alarmingly, four out of five people frequently find themselves suffering with poor or toxic sleep.

We are all undoubtedly familiar with experiencing some form of stress – who isn’t? But when we sit down and really think about it, how much stress are we really under and how is it affecting our lives? Whether it’s work, home life or our finances that are causing us worry, it is not uncommon for this to have a negative effect on our sleep – and in some cases, it can even lead to insomnia.

Today is National Stress Awareness Day, an annual event that was launched to raise awareness of the effects of stress and to promote the importance of combatting stress at home and in the workplace.

We all lead busy lives and have pretty full-on schedules, which means that sleep and general wellbeing get put on the back-burner more often than not. Unfortunately, both of these things tend to suffer if you are highly stressed, because it can be hard to stop your thoughts from racing, and you can spend hours in bed worrying about daily stresses rather than winding down.

It’s fair to say that stress can play a very big part in your sleep or lack thereof, but it’s also important to acknowledge that you are not alone if you’re struggling to get enough sleep.

So how can you spot when stress may be having a negative effect on your health or your kip?

Most significantly, you’ll probably start to notice a decrease in the amount of sleep you are getting. It’s not uncommon for stress to play havoc with the quality of your sleep either. For example, you may be able to drift off relatively easily, but when you have things playing on your mind, they can have you waking up in the middle of the night or even enter your dreams, causing you more distress.

If you do suffer from stress-related sleep issues, you may be wondering what you can do to alleviate the symptoms, and ultimately, get stress-free!

Well, there are plenty of things that you can do that are proven to help with unwinding and keeping yourself worry-free just before bed, such as light exercise and herbal treatments.

Did you know that there are also some things that can give long-term or even permanent relief to the symptoms of stress? In 1979, Jon Kabat-Zinn founded the Mindfulness Stress Reduction programme at the University of Massachusetts, which would later go on to treat the chronically ill. Today, practicing mindfulness is pretty ubiquitous and is seen by many people as a great solution to varying forms of stress.

Mindfulness is a form of meditation that incorporates both physical and mental exercises that can help to alleviate stress and anxiety. If you regularly practice mindfulness, you will probably be familiar with yoga and meditation. Doing anything from 15 minutes of light yoga or meditation in either the morning or as part of your evening routine can be great for preparing both your mind and body for the day ahead and helping you to unwind from your day at work.

To find out more on evening rituals, you can read our recent blog on how to tackle stress using easy at-home remedies.

Don’t forget, if you’re suffering from stress and you feel your health is suffering, it’s a good idea to discuss options with your GP or your employer.

Sleep well!

Kelly Clisby

Kelly Clisby

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