Stress can cause many problems in your life and sleep is often affected. Stress can also increase the likelihood of sleep disorders and make it difficult to sleep. The brain starts a series of functions that prepare the body for action when faced with an immediate or potential threat. While the stress reaction is useful, if it persists for too long a time, then the stress can detrimentally affect many bodies. A few of the effects of stress on the body include:
If you suffer from anxiety or stress, you should take steps to get treatment. There are many over-the-counter remedies that can help with insomnia and reduce stress. Some can work for one person and not for another. Your family doctor should be able to provide information about options that are available for your particular needs. You may want to explore some natural treatments as well.
The stress hormone cortisol is released during periods of high stress or anxiety. It is said that low levels of this hormone are linked to a variety of negative physical outcomes including obesity, diabetes, and poor immune function. High stress or anxiety can interfere with the normal sleep system and cause difficulty falling asleep. This can result in sleep difficulty and frequent awakenings. If you experience this problem, then you should see your doctor find out if there is a physical cause for your symptoms.
One of the many self-reported sleep problems among people with chronic stress is sleep hyperhidrosis. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, this condition occurs when “an individual experiences excessive perspiration due to elevated temperature.” Sleep hyperhidrosis can occur both before and after sleep. The condition can occur in all areas of the body but is more common in the feet, face, or underarms. People with sleep hyperhidrosis are often overweight, elderly, or middle-aged and typically have had little or no previous exposure to stress.
Another self Reported problem is sleep apnea, which can cause loud snoring or a pause in breathing, usually lasting ten seconds or more during sleep. Most people with sleep apnea do not notice their sleepiness first thing in the morning, so they aren’t fully awake when the stressor interrupts their sleep. The stress of the day can increase sleep reactivity and cause snoring or gasp. Other common causes of sleep apnea include alcohol, physical illness, overuse of medications, overuse of air conditioning, or other breathing restrictions caused by physical issues.
As previously mentioned, sleep deprivation is linked to a number of physical health problems including diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. It has also been associated with poor immune system health and depression. Sleep disorders such as insomnia, restless leg syndrome, and narcolepsy have been linked to sleep deprivation. Sleep apnea, insomnia, and restless leg syndrome each worsen chronic conditions, such as diabetes, making poor sleep even more severe. Depression is particularly linked to poor sleep, which can increase depressive symptoms and make sleep problems more severe in some patients.
Sleep disorders also contribute to poor immune system health due to elevated cortisol levels after waking up. Cortisol is an excessive hormone that the body releases during periods of stress. Chronic sleep deprivation increases the level of cortisol, which interferes with the body’s natural ability to fight infection and inflammation. People with sleep disorders are at higher risk for infections and inflammation and are more likely to develop diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.
All of these disorders are worsened by the lack of sleep, which leaves the person feeling tired and lacking in energy to get through the day. Lack of sleep directly contributes to high blood pressure, poor digestion, weight gain and poor memory, attention span and concentration. In order to reduce the effects of stress-related disorders, people should take a daily mental and physical exercise regimen to alleviate the symptoms of stress.