There is a link between your lack of sleep and stress. And that relationship creates an ugly baby. Thinking of this combination of unhealthy habits are an ugly baby acts as an easy-to-remember visualization for the effect your habits are having on your life.
Poor sleep patterns and stress are closely related. When you don’t get enough rest, you feel irritable and anxious in the morning. You start stressing out over your day when it’s barely even begun. And this lack of sleep can lead to a really long day filled with anxiety and stress. Can you hear the baby starting to fuss?
This combination of lack of sleep and stress can become a vicious cycle that further disrupts your sleep. We all know that stress can affect your sleep.
Stress Can Become the Norm For You
Does this sound like you? Your personal life is super hectic and super busy. Your workload and career responsibilities are also crazy busy. From the moment you wake up until the second your head hits your pillow at night, stress is a constant pressure.
When you go to bed you can’t stop your mind from racing, which leads to a lack of sleep. And then, guess what? You didn’t sleep well, so you wake up stressed out the next day. And now that baby is full-on screaming at the top of its poor lungs.
If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. I don’t know if this fact makes you feel any better, but millions of women suffer from poor sleep patterns that lead to stress, and their daily stress leads to poor sleep patterns. Let’s take a closer look at the unhealthy link between your lack of sleep and stress.
The Connection between your Lack of Sleep and Stress
The National Sleep Foundation is a great place to find tips and tricks for recognizing sleep deprivation and its effects on all areas of your life. They say that stress causes “hyperarousal”. This is due to your body’s release of stress hormones, like cortisol, when your mind perceives a threat. The threat doesn’t have to be real, your body just needs to believe that you are under attack.
Your mind believes it has noticed something in your environment which threatens your well-being and responds with the release of stress hormones. This could be a coworker who seems headed for a promotion you thought was yours, the fact that you are running late to pick up your kids from school, or any other situation where you feel out of control or unable to cope.
Your mind simply will not let you fall to sleep, until your mind and body are so exhausted that you crash from your weakened state. This can lead to an incomplete sleep cycle without the REM stage, which is why you feel so tired and exhausted when you wake up in the morning after a night of poor sleep. The REM stage is where the good restorative sleep happens.
Let’s look at a different, but related situation. You get a great night’s rest. You feel powerful, energetic and ready to go in the morning. Then you have an incredibly stressful day. Even though your previous night’s rest prepared your body properly for the day, experiencing high levels of stress has once again released cortisol and other stress-related hormones.
So when you hit your bed that night, you toss and turn. Then guess what? You begin the following day tired and worn out, not at your best mentally and physically.
Lack of sleep and stress can affect your immune system
Your lack of sleep has also stripped you of the “rest and digest” part of your day, leaving you in “fight or flight” mode.
Sleep deprivation has been shown to suppress the body’s immune system, making one less capable of fighting off infections or managing chronic conditions.
It also leads to weight gain, lack of energy, lack of motivation and slower recovery from injuries because it lowers natural painkiller levels and reduces natural killer cells.
Stopping the lack of sleep and stress cycle
Don’t get too discouraged, you can correct this and improve your peace. Think of this as finding that baby’s pacifier!
Identify the biggest stressors in your life. In most cases, with most women, the things that cause you stress are identifiable. You can probably name them pretty quickly.
Women are often so focused on others that we never seem to stop working. We have to manage our careers, families, households, and more. But bad habits like never saying no and taking on other people’s tasks can wear you out.
You need a healthy break from all the stress in your life because it will not only deplete your energy but it will affect the quality of time you spend with your family members and friends. Next, we look at reducing the stress so you can sleep.
Create a plan to combat your destructive cycle
Once you’e identified the culprits causing your stress and disrupting your sleep, create a proactive plan to weaken their power:
- Avoid that angry coworker
- Stop eating those sugar-filled, nutritionally-bankrupt (but delicious!) treats that cause you to crash and burn
- Clean up the messy, cluttered home or office space that causes you mental distress
The simple idea is to find out what is causing repetitive stress in your daily routine and try to eliminate it. You should also combine this with eating a healthy diet (healthy means eating foods you can pronounce) and exercising regularly. Keep hydrated, and take time to stay connected with the things that matter to you and control your thoughts.
These are proven stress-relievers that also promote healthy sleep patterns, which can keep you from getting lost in that terrible lack of sleep and stress cycle.
Commit to working on your stress and health
A lack of sleep and stress can lead to problems. This article discusses how lack of sleep, lack of REM cycles in the brain, and high levels of cortisol (stress) are not healthy. I’ve suggested several ways to combat this issue like identifying your top stressors and creating an action plan for them, i.e., avoiding those people who make you mad or frustrated when you interact with them at work.
You can also think about eating healthier foods and exercising regularly in order to manage chronic conditions more effectively. In conclusion, if you want to break out from the lack off sleep stress cycle find what is causing repetitive stress in your daily routine and try eliminate it by following these tips!