In 2017, health insurer Aviva estimated that 16 million adults in the UK suffer from sleepless nights. Another extensive UK-specific survey by Firstbeat in 2020 revealed that people in the age bracket of 55-59 slept the least of all. 60% of them slept fewer than 8 hours a night. This is in sharp contrast to the age group of 18-29, where about 51% of them take a good night’s sleep of more than 8 hours. So what changes as we grow old?
A recent Swedish study explored the association between the lack of physical activity and job strain on our sleep quality. Similarly, the 2018 Stress in the Workplace Survey reveals how stress-induced burnout hampers our sleep and teaches some coping mechanisms. Clearly, there’s a strong connection between our overall well-being and sleep health that has direct correlation with our stress management skills.
How is sleep connected to our stress levels?
Stress is often associated with many negative connotations, but in reality, it is a result of evolution in man and animals. It instigates our autonomic nervous system to release hormones like adrenaline and cortisol that help us take immediate action in critical or dangerous situations.
These hormones instantly spike up our heart rate, increase blood circulation to all the organs and muscles, and pump up the body to take urgent action. This is our fight-or-flight response, which our Palaeolithic ancestors needed to survive.
In the modern world, we don’t get stressed to survive. But our body is triggered to have similar reactions due to workplace conflict, family problems, or any emotional crisis.
When our brains go into the fight-or-flight state, our bodies get into a hypervigilant state. It’s hard to rest your head on the pillow and not think of all the reasons stressing you out. A stressed mind activates its survival mode, and sleep is the last thing on its priority list.
What can sleep deprivation do to us?
Experts suggest that an average adult body needs 7-9 hours of sleep and rest to be properly functional. Those who don’t get ample sleep are prone to certain risks, such as:
- Cognitive impairment
- Weaker immunity
- Weight gain
- Motor skill impairment
- Low energy throughout the day
- Emotional irritability
- Mental health issues like depression
- Chronic diseases like diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, stroke and kidney disease
Although many factors come together to cause such drastic health crises, insomnia or lack of sleep can be a major contributor.
Can a good night’s sleep reduce stress?
When we are fast asleep, our stress level automatically starts getting down. To have a significant impact on stress, it’s crucial to have an uninterrupted sleep of 7-9 hours, so that you reach all the five stages of sleep. Every stage lasts for about 90-120 minutes and in the end, you feel thoroughly rested and refreshed.
In the first stage of sleep, our body slowly relaxes. Blood circulation also improves at this stage. Slowly, we move deeper into sleep, allowing our muscles to relax and blood pressure to normalize. The hormones and toxins are also regulated during deep sleep.
Our body doesn’t immediately wake up from the deep sleep stage. It slowly transitions into the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage where we dream. This stage is particularly significant to keep our stress levels low throughout the upcoming day. Overall, our sleep cycle is designed in a way to comfort our body and helps us cope with stress.
So yes, a good night’s sleep can do miracles for your stress levels.
Tips for getting quality sleep at night
Now that we know how crucial sleep is for our stress management, how do we improve our quality of sleep at night?
Here’s a list of actionable tips and practices that can significantly improve your sleep quality, with some modifications to your lifestyle.
● Start with your dinner schedule
The easiest way to take control of your sleep quality is by controlling your dinner schedule. Keep your dinner light and take it 2-3 hours before retiring to bed. This way, your body gets enough time to fully digest the food.
● Meditation and prayer
Both meditation and prayer allow our minds to centre on a singular objective. Before starting a day or before going to sleep, meditation and prayer can help declutter the mind to make space for more important information. When you make it a practice, it alleviates many causes of stress and worry, leaving us refreshed. Other relaxing activities like taking a hot shower, journaling, listening to music and aromatherapy also help.
Yoga helps in muscle relaxation and also encourages the release of endorphins. Endorphins can calm us down and improve our mood. Add yoga and gentle stretching to your morning or evening routine to stimulate your body and mind.
● Practice deep breathing
Even during a hectic day of work, take some time out to practice deep breathing. Take a minute off. Close your eyes and inhale to your lungs’ full capacity. Hold your breath for a second and then release slowly. This practice breaks the cycle of anxiety and your brain’s stress-triggering response. It aligns your mind with inner peace and calms your entire body.
● Be the boss of your screens
Your electronic gadgets don’t control your life. It’s vice versa. Show some resistance and turn off your gadgets at least one hour before going to bed. In the meantime, practice reading books or any off-screen activities. This reduces the impact of stress induced by electronics and improves your sleep quality.
● Eat healthy
The last but the most crucial step for good quality sleep is maintaining a healthy diet. Cut down on junk food with lots of harmful fats and sugar. Lower your alcohol and caffeine consumption.
You can also add natural supplements to your daily routine to easily get most of the essential nutrients. The range of supplements from Authentic Biotics are made from natural ingredients
without any harmful additives, fillers and binders. The natural composition can be readily absorbed in the body, and doesn’t cause any side-effects in most cases. However, if you have any specific concern, do consult your doctor once.
Stress doesn’t have a specific source in our lives. By taking conscious steps to stress less and improve our sleeping quality, we can actually improve our health too. No wonder scientists associate healthy sleeping patterns with increased lifespan.
Start today for a better living
Take control of your health today and begin with simple steps. While you make time for yoga and meditation, initiate the process of self-care by taking supplements to beat stress and improve your mindscape.
You can start by taking natural supplements by Authentic Biotics that enhance your mental well-being with a blend of superfoods and nutrients. Check out Authentic Biotics right away and take a step towards better health, sleep, and life.