According to the NHS 1 in 3 of us suffer from poor sleep, with stress one of the key contributors to blame. Poor sleep can then lead to poor health, which has the potential to compound the issue and make getting a good nights sleep even more difficult.
Life can be stressful enough, without worrying about getting a proper, restful nights sleep. Let us guide you through some of the information on the links between stress, sleep & immunity, and then give you some practical tips on how you can apply this knowledge to your life.
Stress And Sleep
We have all had the experience of being unable to fall asleep because of stress. Perhaps you experience the feeling of a nagging fear or worry that just won’t let you shut your brain off and go to sleep. So, it should be no surprise to learn that stress reduces not only the amount of sleep you get but also the quality as well.
The unfortunate problem is that this relationship also goes the other way. Being tired and unable to fall asleep is stressful. When you are tired, your ability to deal with stress weakens. When you don’t deal with, it festers and grows. The worst case is when you get to the point that you are stressing about falling asleep. At this point, you are trapped in a vicious cycle of stress and sleeplessness.
Getting out of this cycle can seem impossible, but if you can make progress at dealing with one of these issues, it will also help you with the other. So if you can do something to manage your stress before bedtime, you can get more sleep. Or if you get a good night of sleep, you will be better able to manage your stress. Separating the two is very difficult.
Sleep And Immunity
When you’re asleep, your mind may be getting a rest, but other systems in your body use sleep as a chance to get busy. Your immune system is one such system.
While you sleep, your body produces cytokines. These are chemicals that your immune system uses to communicate with all the cells in your body. It is how your immune system tells the cells in your body to defend themselves from infection. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body produces fewer cytokines. Your immune response is dampened when there are fewer cytokines sending messages.
Basically, you need to get enough sleep for your immune system to work effectively. The less rest you get, the weaker your body’s immune response will be.
Stress And Immunity
Excessive stress can harm the immune system. The way it does this is complex. The complexity comes from the fact that stress causes so many different processes in your body. Combine this with the fact that the immune system is intertwined with practically all your other systems and you end up with a complex and interdependent relationship.
It all boils down to this - small bursts of stress can have a positive impact on your immunity. It gives your body a jolt and gets your immune system on alert. The problem comes from long term stress. If your body is continually being called to alert, then mistakes are going to start happening, and things are going to break down. When you are stressed all the time, your immune system doesn’t get the chance to rest and reset.
Now that you know that stress can affect your immune response, it’s time for some useful advice. The first thing we are going to tell you is don’t worry about your stress levels. It is counterproductive. Instead of focussing on the problem, focus on solutions and things that you can control. So here are some top tips to keep your stress, sleep and immunity connection a happy and harmonious one.
Control the things you can - You are not going to be able to control everything in your life that is causing you stress or stopping you from sleeping. So, a good place to start is by identifying one or two things you can change. Take action on these and ignore the other issues. Journaling is an excellent tool to help you manage this.
Nourish your body - Both a lack of sleep and stress can play havoc with your diet and the way your body uses nutrients. Make sure that you eat healthily. Try and get a good dose of the nutrients your body craves when you’re stressed - magnesium, B complex and vitamin C. If you are struggling to get these through you diet you might want to consider a supplement like Stressveda. It’s full of stress-busting nutrients like KSM-66 Ashwagandha - a herb which is known for its ability to reduce stress and promote a calmer and happier sense of being.
Try meditation - Meditation has been proven to help reduce stress and improve sleep. If you’re new to meditation, there are plenty of guided meditation apps you can try which will help you learn this skill. Search our blog page for some of our most recommended stress-busting apps.