Understanding How Stress Impacts Your Sleep

You can have the most comfortable mattress known to mankind and still wake up feeling like you didn’t get a wink of sleep. How does this happen? It happens because of stress. ​

Stress impacts sleep more than most people realize. Not only can stress lead to insomnia, but it can also cause you to toss and turn throughout the night once you finally fall asleep, making the sleep you do get feel like you’ve been hit by a train. In fact, it’s not uncommon for those with stress to feel sore and even more tired after waking up from sleeping than they did when they went to bed. For now, let’s take a closer look at how stress affects sleep and what you can do about it. ​

​You’re Thinking Too Much

When you’re stressed, you tend to overthink things. Whether it be bringing your work home with you or worrying about a sick relative, these issues will be maximized in your mind if you are stressed and they can cause you to lay awake at night. And once you finally fall asleep, overthinking will stick with you and impact the way you transition through various sleep stages, causing you to feel restless when you wake up.

You’re Drinking Too Much Caffeine

Waking up in the morning and feeling stressed can cause you to turn to caffeine as a way to get your sleepy head out of its fog. And while a temporary caffeine boost may seem worth the aftereffects, the truth is, it isn’t. In fact, caffeine can increase your stress levels, making it even more difficult to fall asleep at night. ​

Your Cortisol Levels are Out of Whack

When you’re stressed, this increases the amount of cortisol your body produces. And while cortisol is essential to your fight or flight response, you don’t want too much of it because it can keep you up at night. Your body will feel threatened due to a lack of sleep, and as a result, cortisol levels will send your body into flight response mode, giving you a boost of energy, which only compacts your restlessness and sleep problems. ​

Combating Stress to Get a Better Night of Sleep

​Create a Nighttime Routine

One of the best ways to reduce stress and enjoy a better night of sleep is to create a routine and stick to it. For example, you will want to cut out all caffeine after 4:00 p.m. as well as make sure you put your phone and electronics away at least an hour before you intend to fall asleep. The blue light emitted from these electronics is known to keep you awake, so you’ll want to put them away at least an hour before bedtime. ​

Enjoy a Few Minutes of Exercise

One of the best ways to release stress is to exercise. Even if it’s a 10-minute workout, this can greatly improve the quality of sleep you get each night. ​

The Takeaway

Better sleep starts with less stress, so make sure you follow the tips outlined above to start enjoying a more restful night of sleep.