When stress enters our lives, something we need most is sleep. Yet often times when we are stressed, it is difficult to fall asleep. Which led us to ask the question… Why can’t we sleep when we’re stressed? We found 10 of the top reasons why it is difficult to sleep when you’re stressed and we are going to share them all with you. We will also share some of our top tips on how to get to sleep when you are stressed! Stick around to learn more!
Having trouble getting to sleep? You may also enjoy: Guide To Insomnia
1) High Cortisol Levels Make It Difficult To Sleep
Our circadian rhythm releases cortisol and adrenaline in order to wake us up in the morning. Cortisol is also known as the stress hormone and is released when we are feeling overwhelmed with negative emotions and thoughts. Which is why it is completely natural for it to be difficult for you to fall asleep when you are very stressed.
With cortisol and adrenaline ramping up with stress, your heartrate quickens and it becomes very difficult to become calm and ready for sleep. This is one of the leading issues when it comes to trying to sleep when you are stressed.
2) Less Distractions = Stressful Thoughts
Why is it that we can have a great day, then when we lay our heads down to sleep at night that is when we become overwhelmed with stressful thoughts? This is such an often occurrence for so many people.
Throughout the day we have problems to solve, actions to take, and entertaining distractions to keep us busy. Whenever we turn off all of the distractions, we are left with our own thoughts to wonder. When we are full of stress and worry that we are trying to avoid, these thoughts then have time to take over and overwhelm us.
Of course the best way to permanently resolve this issue is to fix the issue that is causing you stress. However, some things simply take time to resolve themselves. Which is why a sleep tip we have for you is to give your mind something else relaxing to focus on while you fall asleep. Whether it is a podcast, audiobook, or relaxing meditation.
3) Stress Can Trigger Nightmares
Even if you are able to fall asleep perfectly well and without any issues. You may find that when you are stressed that you have a lot more nightmares.
You mind is still trying to process all of the situations that are causing you stress and anxiety. With these stressors taking up so much of your thoughts and attention throughout the day, it is only natural that they will take up your brain waves when you are sleeping as well.
Even if you are not having nightmares about the topic at hand, you may have other forms of stress nightmares. For example you may be having a stressful time at work and end up having a nightmare that you forgot to study for a test for school. Even though you have not been in school for years or decades, your mind may translate the stress you are feeling with that familiar stress and anxiety.
Get our top tips for getting rid of nightmares in our post: Putting Nightmares To Rest
4) Stress Can Cause Insomnia
Stress is one of the leading triggers for insomnia. Whether you suffer from chronic insomnia or you simple struggle to sleep every now and then. Stress can trigger a bout of insomnia very quickly. Even if you have never suffered from insomnia before, you may find yourself unable to sleep when under high stress situations.
For example, if you are anticipating an important meeting, job interview, or some other important and or stressful occasion.
You may find that the night before you find yourself unable to sleep. Even if you normally sleep like an angel. This is completely normal and can be incredibly frustrating.
5) Night Terrors & Stress
While night terror and nightmares are often commonly thought of as the same. They can actually present themselves very differently. Night Terrors are called Parasomnias by Psychiatrists.
Parasomnias can occur during REM sleep as well as during Non-REM sleep, however they are most common during REM sleep. When you experience a night terror, you very suddenly wake up from a deep sleep often crying, screaming, and disoriented. It can feel very similar to jerking awake to being in the middle of a panic attack.
This is caused by a central nervous system arousal and not due to waking up from a bad dream. While nightmares may cause you to suddenly wake up full of fright and anxiety. It is a different process than the central nervous system arousal which is what causes sleep terrors. High levels of stress can cause both nightmares as well as night terrors.
6) Stress May Cause Over Sleeping
Along with the struggles with going to sleep, stress may also make it difficult to get out of bed in the morning. It can be difficult to start your day when life is stressing you out and getting you down.
If you are having a hard time getting out of bed in the morning, this can also be a sign that your stress is turning into depression.
Often being stressed can bring on bouts of depression. Oversleeping, and lack of drive to get up and start your day is a common sign of depression. So if this sounds like something you are struggling with you may want to look into how you can deal with depression as well as dealing with your stress.
You May Also Enjoy: How to Sleep Better with Depression
7) Being Stressed Can Make You Feel Exhausted
Got a great nights rest last night, but you still feel exhausted? That might be caused by your stress. Dealing with stress and stressful situations can be absolutely exhausting. So even if you have had more than enough rest, you still make find yourself waking up feeling exhausted. Or you may find that as stress hits during the day, you hit a wall with your energy.
This is completely normal! This can be due to having high cortisol levels for an extended period of time, or simply do to being sick and tired of the situation you’re in. Either way, getting rid of your stress and learning to find ways to relax can greatly help you to have an even amount of energy throughout the day.
Is the news stressing you out? Read our post: News Report Insomnia
8) Stress Can Cause Aches & Pains
When you are carrying around a lot of stress, it can begin to manifest in your body. Stress can show up as aches and pains all over. However, it is especially common for stress to cause back, neck, and shoulder pains.
This can make it very difficult to get comfortable and sleep. Chronic pain can make it seem impossible to relax and get a good nights sleep. Headaches and migraines can also be triggered by stress.
Finding ways to relieve your stress and give you pain relief is going to be very helpful for you to find sleep. A bath or warm show can be very helpful for this. Not only is a warm bath great for relieving your aches and pains, it is also a great was to let go of stress and prepare for sleep.
Suffering from chronic pain? You may enjoy reading: Best Sleeping Positions for Pain Relief
9) TMJ While You Sleep
Grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw while you sleep is very common for people who are often stressed. This is cause when you unknowingly clamp down your teeth and sometimes move them while you are unconscious. Not only is this very uncomfortable, it can be dangerous for your dental health. Not only can it literally hurt your mouth and ears but it can also wear down tooth enamel, which can lead to cavities and even cracked teeth.
One of the most common signs that you are grinding your teeth at night is waking up with a headache and a stiff or sore jaw. If you think you might be grinding your teeth at night it is important to talk to your dentist about it. Mouth guards can help protect your teeth, while reducing stress may help reduce the amount of teeth grinding you experience.
Learn more about teeth grinding and sleep in our post: How To Stop Grinding Your Teeth At Night
10) Inability to Take Action
When something is weighing on your mind, body, and soul taking action is the best way to deal with it. Taking action gives you a way to become in charge of what is stressing you out instead of being a victim to your circumstances.
Unfortunately, when you are trying to go to sleep there is not much you can do to take action over your circumstances. Which can lead to more stress over whatever it is that is upsetting you.
Writing down what is troubling and what you plan to do about it when the morning comes is a great way to help you relax in these situations. This way you know that my task for now is to sleep and in the morning I will be able to take on the day and conquer my issues.
How To Relieve Stress & Get Sleep
Create a Relaxing Nightly Routine
Every night create a wind down routine, turn off the news, have a cup of tea, take a warm bubble bath, put on some relaxing music, etc.
Find something you can manage to fit into your schedule nightly and treat yourself to a relaxing break from the world. Even if you have to shift your bedtime to a bit later than usual, you may find that you fall asleep faster and your sleep quality increases.
Having a relaxing nightly routine can help you to let off some steam in order to get to sleep easier each night.
Learn more about how to create your nightly routine in our post: Stress Free Nightly Routine
When we are stressed, often our breathing becomes stunted. We stop taking deep breaths and instead take short breaths in and out. Breathing exercises are made to remind you to relax your muscles and take deep slow breaths in and out.
You will be surprised how much deep breathing alone can change how you feel. Often, we don’t even realize how much tension we are holding in our bodies until we start consciously relaxing and breathing deeply.
You May Also Enjoy: A Guide To Stretching: AM & PM Routines
Keep Work Away From The Bedroom
If your work tends to start early and end late, involve early morning phone calls, or late night emails make sure to take care of this work outside of the bedroom. By creating a physical boundary between work and sleep, you can also create a mental boundary as well. This makes it easier to shut off that side of your brain and allow yourself to prepare for sleep.
When you never allow work in your resting place, your body picks up on the signals of – when I am in this space, it is time to relax. This will make it easier to relax in your bedroom as well as turn on your work brain when you enter the space you do your work in.
Meditate on Positive Thinking Before Bed
Positivity can go a long way to changing perspective and calming the soul. While there are many different forms of meditation, we are speaking to focusing your mind on positivity. Whether you want to visualize that important meeting going well or listing off the good things that happened today, or the things you are most grateful for. Find what works for you and gets your mind working in a positive direction.
Once you get your wheels turning in a good direction, it becomes easier for your thoughts to keep going in that direction instead of lingering on negativity and stress.
Learn more about meditation in our post: Meditation for Sleep, Anxiety & Healing
Journal About It:
You can’t change the world at 2:30am while you should be resting. However, brainstorming or even just venting about what is stressing you out may help.
Writing it down, will help you get your stress out of your system a little bit. By getting all the thoughts that are bouncing around in your mind out and onto paper, it can calm your mind and keep you from lingering on those stressful thoughts. That way your mind stops the hamsters wheel of negative thinking and instead let you fall asleep.
Time To Get Your Stress Under Control:
Now that you know the reasons why stress triggers bouts of insomnia, perhaps it will be easier to get some sleep at night. Relieving stress is the best way to deal with lack of sleep caused by stress. We hope some of our top tips give you a place to start in order to stop stressing and start sleeping. There will always be different stressful circumstances that come in and out of our lives. Which is why it is a good idea to find healthy ways to manage your stress and get the sleep you need.
Have a question for us? Send us a message through our Contact Us page, we would be happy to help out in anyway we can.