How Sleep Affects Your Stress

by Doc Orman, M.D.

How sleep problems affect your stress levelIn my first post this week, we looked at how being under stress can negatively impact your sleep. 

Today, I want to look at the relationship between stress and sleep from the opposite direction. 

I want to discuss how not sleeping well (for any reason) can aggravate or worsen your physical and/or psychological symptoms of stress.

Increased Vulnerabilities

When you don’t sleep well, for any reason, your body and mind don’t function as well as they normally do.  You feel sluggish and fatigued, your concentration  diminishes, and your ability to think and reason can also become compromised. If you miss an occasional night of restful sleep, these effects might not be very pronounced.  But if you miss three or four nights of good sleep in a row, both your body and your mind will be highly vulnerable to many kinds of stress.

When our body and mind are sleep deprived, we can become angry more easily, our anxiety levels can be higher, our ability to think and solve problems can be impaired, and we can become irritable much more easily.

Because of these changes, we are much more likely to snap at other people, which further increases our problems and hence our overall stress.

Always Strive To Protect Your Sleep

Because disrupted sleep can lead to increased susceptibility to stress, it’s imperative that if you know you are heading into stressful times, you must always strive to protect your usual sleep pattern.  This is an important proactive step that can go a long way toward helping you negotiate the upcoming stresses you are likely to face more easily.

And if you start to notice that your sleep is being impaired, make it a top priority to correct this as quickly as you can.

Remember, stress can negatively affect your sleep, which can then cause you to have more stress, which in turn can cause your sleep to become even more disturbed—an ugly vicious circle

So, sometimes, one of the best and most effective things you can do to deal with stress in your life is to make sure you get a good, full night’s rest almost every day of the week.  The more stress you are experiencing, the more critical your need for restful sleep becomes.

Unfortunately, when your sleep has become disturbed, and you become desperate to return to your previous pattern, you can fall into some bad sleep habits that can seriously work against you.  This will be the topic of my third and final post on this topic for the week.


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