I’ve posted about stress, but I haven’t yet posted about what helps reduce stress. The #1 stress reducer : Sleep. Ahhhhh…sleep. I don’t know about you, but I love to sleep. So much so that my favorite room in the house is my bedroom, and my favorite piece of furniture is my bed. But lately, I haven’t been getting the restful sleep that I need or that I’m used to.
Sleep allows your body to rest and realign, allowing your brain to process and dump the day’s experience. Deep sleep is what we’re after because it is in the 3rd and 4th stages of sleep that our brain waves move reeeaaally slow. There are no eye or muscle movements. This is Delta sleep stage. This sleep state induces healing. If we find ourselves getting continuous or more light sleep than deep sleep, your body and mind will not have the time or space to rejuvenate or heal. Lack of sleep impacts your weight, your heart, immune system and makes you age faster or at least look like it.
Stress and sleep are closely linked and sometimes it’s like asking the question: what came first the chicken or the egg. Stress can impact your sleep, just think about any time you’ve lost sleep because you were worried about something , a relationship, a job, a performance etc. Losing sleep can create stress. Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night or maybe too early in the morning only to find that you’re unable to go back to sleep? The more time passes, you toss and turn, you try different sleep positions thinking and hoping this will help. Instead, you become more stressed out because you see the clock getting closer and closer to the time you actually need to get up and all you want to do is scream “Ugh!!!!!!?” Frustrating I know. Not sleeping through the night can snowball into more than one night. Not getting enough sleep can lead to stress or compound your stress, and stress can lead to not getting enough sleep because of worry or anxiety. It is cyclical, and they both interact and impact each other.
There was a time when I worked at a rehab center, which I liked to call an emotional ER. People would be admitted because their lives were in shambles due to addictions and trauma. There was constant stress and intensity, so much so that my nights after work looked like Homer below. I was getting a lot of sleep, but not the deep sleep I needed for my nervous system to Fully decompress, destress or heal. I was in a state of exhaustion. Many people may find themselves in this state due to situational stress, stress that is due to a certain career, job, receiving higher education (freshman 15 weight gain) demands and expectations.
So, the next time you find yourself overwhelmed, exhausted or stressed, and your body is needing you to sleep, give yourself permission and some time to take a catnap. This is normal. This is your body telling you that, “Hey, I need to heal. I need to decompress.” Your body and your mind will thank you.