The dangerous relationship between stress and sleep
Stress is part of every life, and of course, it’s a big part of running any business. But when stress starts to affect your sleep, you quickly find yourself caught in a vicious cycle.
Reading Andrew Griffiths’ article, Sometimes, I get scared, got me thinking. Stress is unavoidable, especially when you’re a business owner.
And one of the first things that suffers when we’re stressed is sleep.
Stress degrades the quality and quantity of our sleep, and that makes it difficult to get a full night’s rest. The worst part about the combination of stress and lack of sleep, is that it’s cyclically deteriorating:
- The more stressed we are, the more our sleep suffers.
- The less sleep we get, the more easily stressed we get.
It’s easy to see how quickly things can get out of hand.
"Sometimes, you can alleviate your levels of stress by writing a to-do list to deal with outstanding tasks or issues you need to handle the next day. "
Research also suggests that long-term stress can actually re-wire your genes, and can cause some negative changes to our bodies including:
- increasing inflammation
- increasing headaches
- increasing appetite
- increasing fat storage
- increasing memory loss
- increasing chances of heart problems
- increasing insomnia
- increasing hair loss
- increasing blood pressure
- increasing stroke
- … and many more
So when things happen beyond our control in business, how can we regain control in order to ensure our body is rested enough to tackle the next day? Here are five tips you can try to get a good night’s sleep, even when you’re at your most stressed.
1. Go outside
Before you decide to call it a night, sit outside, breathe in some fresh air and enjoy the night sky. The fresh breeze and external stimulation will help you process your thoughts and refocus, and you’ll feel much more relaxed.
2. Make a list
Sometimes, you can alleviate your levels of stress by writing a to-do list to deal with outstanding tasks or issues you need to handle the next day. This gets your thoughts out of your mind and on to paper, saving you the burden yourself of trying to remember it all. Keep a pad and pen next to your bed.
3. Go for a run
This is a double-whammy as it reduces stress while making you healthier. Doing any type of physical activity which gets your heart rate up helps produce feel-good endorphins and regulate your sleep. You’ll feel a lot more chilled out and sleep much deeper, (just don’t exercise too close to bed time).
4. Share the stress
Talking to someone about your current situation can help you wind down before bed, as well as provide opportunities for others to assist you in your time of need. It can also help release tension by distracting you with the pleasantries of human contact.5
5. Relax or meditate
Just before bed, take some time out just for yourself to unwind and free your mind. Take a bath, read a book, listen to relaxing music, visualise, meditate, play with the kids or express gratitude to your partner.
Your business can easily consume you and rob you of sleep, but it doesn’t have to.
Taking control of a stressful situation starts with you. Learn to identify the signs of oncoming stress, and have a stress ritual in place to help you get through the day. This will give you the best possible chance of a deep, rejuvenating sleep, and help you start your new day fresh and stress-free.
Have you noticed a relationship between stress and sleep? How do you deal with it?