Stress can negatively affect many areas of our lives – our relationships may suffer, our work performance and productivity may decrease, and our lives may spin out of control; there’s no doubt that sleep can also be negatively affected, but how? If you’ve been tossing and turning all night or experiencing insomnia due to stress of any sort – getting to the bottom of this could help you ease your mind – and body – a little more.
When you become stressed, your body muscles tense. As emphasized by the American Psychological Association (APA), muscle tension is nearly a reflex to stress – it’s the body’s way of guarding itself against pain or injury. Chronic stress often causes the body’s muscles to be more or less tense in a constant state, which can lead to further distressing physical issues such as migraines. Your respiratory system is also affected, as you may experience shortness of breath or even anxiety attacks. The body’s cardiovascular system is affected, as stress hormones such as adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol amp up. The endocrine system is affected as when your body is in “fight or flight” mode, the liver produces more glucose, a blood sugar that gives you the energy to react in response to an emergency. Furthermore, energy will come from the additional cortisol and epinephrine that your adrenal cortex has produced in your adrenal glands. Your gastrointestinal system is affected, as your stomach, esophagus, and bowels experience heightened activity. All of these symptoms together affect the central nervous system, which plays a part in your sleeping patterns.
A study published in Experimental Neurobiology found that stress can cause an activation in the body’s hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, one of the main neuroendocrine stress systems during sleep. When stress hormones are activated, the sympathetic nervous system results in wakefulness, attention, and arousal. The study further denoted that stress-related insomnia can easily become a vicious cycle of as the hypothalamus is known as a key center for sleep regulation; in order to sleep better at night, you need to take part in activities such as mindfulness, breathing exercises, and other self-care exercises to protect your mind and body from the considerable damage that stress can cause.
Avalon Malibu is a world-renowned, California state-licensed mental health and substance abuse recovery center. If you are ready to seek treatment to develop the tools you need to overcome life’s obstacles and be on the road towards happiness, health, and well-being, call us today at 888-958-7511 for a consultation. It’s never too late, and there are people here ready to help you.