Research shows that sleep can dramatically reduce your stress levels. A good night’s sleep may be just what you need for stress relief! Learn the relationship between good sleep habits and stress relief.
Have you ever noticed that during times of stress, you often just want to go to sleep?
Just crawl under those covers and snooze away for hours?
You might think that tuning out is just a way of avoiding your stressors. As it turns out, there’s much more to it. A good night’s sleep has been scientifically proven to reduce everyday stress.
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Sadly, stress is part of life.
At some point, everyone experiences stress.
Physical, emotional, and other types of stress take their toll on our minds and bodies. Sleep can counteract that toll. That’s why sleep is necessary.
The Relationship Between Good Sleep Habits and Stress Relief
Our bodies use sleep to restore and recover.
While we sleep our bodies carry out important restorative functions.
During times of rest, our bodies:
- can focus energy on repairing injuries
- strengthen immune systems
- fight off foreign invaders such as viruses
- our brains and livers rid themselves of toxins and restore equilibrium
- the subconscious brain processes the events of the day through dreams
- memories are consolidated and stored
It’s pretty amazing how active our bodies remain even when we are sleeping.
Even slight sleep deprivation or poor sleep can affect memory, judgment, and mood.
Chronic sleep deprivation can contribute to serious health problems, from obesity and high blood pressure to safety risks while driving.
According to the American Psychological Association, research has shown that most Americans would be happier, healthier, and safer if they were to sleep an extra 60 to 90 minutes per night.
How Stress Impacts our Bodies
Stress takes a toll on both our minds and our bodies.
Stress causes the release of cortisol, a powerful hormone that triggers the “fight or flight” response in our bodies. Cortisol is often referred to as nature’s alarm system.
Some ways that stress negatively affects our bodies include:
- Heart disease
- Memory and concentration problems
- Upset stomach
- Problems with digestion
- Loss of Appetite
- Chest, neck, or back pain
- Trouble sleeping
- Weight gain
Sound sleep helps reduce the levels of cortisol and balance the chemistry in the brain and body.
How Stress Affects our Minds
Some ways that stress negatively affects our minds include:
- Mood swings
- Emotional outbursts
- Emotional withdrawal
- Anxiety and tension
- Poor concentration
- Work mistakes
After a long stressful day, the best way to regulate mood swings is a restful night’s sleep.
Stress Can be hard on our relationships, too
Stress changes how we engage with other people.
Being worried, anxious, or overwhelmed makes it harder to be present and engage positively with other people.
We are more likely to lash out in anger, argue, cry, blame others for our problems, and behave negatively toward those closest to us when we are feeling stressed.
From co-workers to family, stress can fracture relationships if we aren’t careful.
Sleep is the key to stress relief
Sleep is a wonderful remedy for a stressful day.
Relaxing in the comfort of your bed and letting go of the worries of the world can give you a new perspective, and renew your spirit and energy.
Sleeping provides an opportunity to recharge and get ready to face the world again. Relaxing in bed prior to sleeping begins the process of rebuilding your energy.
Sleep can be the escape you need from the pressures going on. It gives you uninterrupted time to allow your body to recover from a difficult day.
Making sleep a priority, including naps if necessary, can help your mind and body recover from stress and manage difficult situations easier.
Bedtime Routines can Help Prepare You for a good night’s Sleep
Having a bedtime routine can help prepare our minds and bodies for a good night’s sleep. What you do prior to going to bed can make or break your ability to fall asleep.
Prior to going to bed, it’s best to do activities that promote and trigger your natural sleep rhythm.
Good Ways to Prepare for a Good Night’s Sleep
Drinking decaffeinated hot tea, taking a hot bath or shower, and reading can calm the body and mind in preparation for sleep.
So can meditation, journaling, and getting organized for the following morning.
The closer you can follow a routine – including going to bed at the same time each night – the more easily you will slip into sleep and continue to sleep soundly throughout the night.
Choices That Will Make it Harder to Sleep
You’ll find it harder to sleep if you spend the hours right before bed engaging in screen time, including tv, computer, or your phone.
Drinking caffeine or alcohol, watching emotionally intense content, and exercising at night can trigger your mind and body to be more active when you should be winding down.
And as a consistent routine can aid sleep, being inconsistent (or nonexistent) in your activities in the last hours before going to bed can be disruptive and keep you tossing and turning all night.
Your circadian rhythm affects your sleep cycle
Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.
Our bodies are designed with an internal sleep cycle.
The circadian rhythm is a natural biological process in our bodies that helps us discern night from day.
We are biologically predisposed to need those 7-9 hours per night for our bodies to perform all the functions it requires.
We have an innate wind-down window where our bodies shift towards sleepiness and ready themselves to go to bed. Disrupting this cycle with staying up late or overstimulation can cause significant stress and make it much harder to fall asleep and wake refreshed.
You can help keep your rhythm in sync by setting a routine bedtime and sticking to it.
Sleep training your body to sleep and wake at specific times can help manage and override stressful thoughts at bedtime. Your body will be used to going to sleep on a schedule.
Once your body is accustomed to falling asleep and waking at specific times you likely won’t need an alarm clock nor have trouble falling asleep…even when you have stress.
Create a routine that works for you
Creating a bedtime routine that works for you will help you consistently get ready for bed and fall asleep with very little effort. Everyone is different, what one person needs to wind down may look different than someone else.
Develop bedtime habits that help calm, relax, and destress prior to bed and you’ll experience an easier time falling asleep and have more restful nights.
- The Midlife Woman’s Guide to Better Sleep
- Can’t Sleep? Feeling Stressed? Find Balance For a Healthier, Happier Life
- The 5 Best Herbal Teas to Help You Sleep Better
- Healthy Living: A Natural Choice For Stress Relief
- Self-Care: The Best Stress Relief You’ll Ever Find
Final Thoughts on Sleep Habits and Stress Relief
Stress can’t exist in the presence of inner balance and harmony.
Inner balance and harmony cannot exist when you are sleep-deprived.
Sleep is not a magic bullet to eliminate stress, but it is a required tool to help manage and reduce stress.
A good night’s sleep will eliminate drowsiness and fatigue during the day, boost your mood, and sharpen your memory. It will build the resilience your body needs to manage the stress you experience.
Now that you know the relationship between good sleep habits and stress relief, take the effort to get the sleep you need. Your body, mind, and relationships will thank you!
Lori is a happily 50+ woman striving to live her best life through self-awareness and self-care. She writes from experience, inspired by her own journey toward confidence, self-love, and positivity.
Holding degrees in Psychology, Education, and Nonprofit Management, Lori’s varied career has covered education administration, counseling, teaching, conference planning, and full-time motherhood. What do these roles all have in common? Caring for other people.
Today, Lori cares for others by promoting the benefits of self-care for mature women. She stands firm in her belief that through self-care, all women over 50 can feel confident, capable, and happy.