The correlation between stress and sleep

Why does sleep often prove elusive when you are stressed?

Sleep deprivation is one of the biggest struggles that discuss with me when I meet with them. Caregivers frequently state they have difficulty sleeping due to stress and worry for their loved ones.   A little science lesson for you, stress increases the cortisol hormones in our bodies and depletes critical neurotransmitters in our brains, especially serotonin and dopamine. Serotonin is needed to help regulate the body’s sleep cycles. Therefore low serotonin levels can significantly impact sleep patterns.

Why is sleep so important?

A good sleep cycle helps various aspects of brain functioning, such as cognition, concentration, performance, and productivity. Sleep helps refresh and replenish in addition to having a significant role in mental and emotional health. The importance of self-care and stress management are areas that I discuss at a caregiver visit.

Tips and strategies for good sleep hygiene:

  • Set a daily/bedtime routine that you stick to, such as going to bed the same time every night.
  • Create a supportive sleeping atmosphere such as dim lighting, steady room temperature, and no loud noises.
  • Ensure bed, mattress, and bedding are comfortable and supportive for your preferred sleep positions.
  • Perform an activity that is calming and conducive to settling the mind, such as reading, journaling, or breathing exercises through meditation.
  • Shut down electronics such as phone, computer, or television at least an hour before bed.
  • Avoid caffeine of any kind late in the day, which could affect your ability to be able to settle.
  • If you are in bed and cannot fall asleep, read, listen to music,  or do something that will help you calm your mind,.