Sleep and Stress Management

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Sleep and Stress Management

Stress can come in many different forms and can be brought on by many different forces. Work, family, school, and relationships are among a few stressors people face everyday. The body can react to these stressors with head or stomach aches, loss of appetite, and little or no sleep. Although people may not realize it, managing good sleeping habits is a key factor in controlling underlying stress problems. To a certain degree, some level of stress is good to have in your everyday life. It keeps you alert and forces you to think on your feet, providing a stimulant to maybe look at the situation from a different perspective. Lack of sleep, overindulgence, and stress undermine the body's immune system, leaving it vulnerable to illness. Sleep is an important aspect of stress management and without it, we as functioning adults will have trouble managing not only our work lives, but personal lives as well.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, overscheduled daily calendars and job stress/demands are the top two sources of stress for people ages 22-55 (Bradley). Aside from a person's natural reaction to stress of a pounding headache or upset stomach, stress will often come in the form of troubled sleep. Often time, we will have trouble sleeping because we are up all night worrying about our problems and the stressors that cause them. For example, most of us have sat up in bed late at night thinking about that big meeting tomorrow at work. ‘Am I prepared for it?' ‘What if the boss calls on me?' ‘What if my alarm clock doesn't go off?' The problem is not in the actual worrying, but the effects that a poor sleep has on one's body in the following days. Research shows that sleep deprivation hinders brain function, leaving you at a higher risk for accidents in the car and at home (Sykes). At the very least, stress and lack of sleep make people irritable and cranky. According to the National Sleep Foundation, caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco all disrupt sleeping patterns, making it difficult to drift off or stay there (Bradley).

Many people are not aware that they are not getting a proper sleep. Anytime you are relaying on an alarm clock to wake you up, you are not getting enough sleep (Gordon). Although this claim has been highly disputed, there are many doctors that stand by it. So how do I know if I'm getting enough sleep? If you struggle to get awake and get going in the morning, this may be a sign that more sleep is required. Now everyone is going to be a little groggy when they wake up, but that feeling should wear off shortly. Another classic sign is dozing off without wanting to, especially if you are at work or in the middle of a task. Also, this behavior is exhibited when people doze off after a single glass of wine or beer. There is not enough alcohol in one glass to put someone to sleep, with the exception of a very small person or first-time drinker. The Mayo Sleep Clinic defines adequate sleep as "that amount which, when you attain it on a steady basis, produces a full degree of daytime alertness and a feeling of well-being the following day (mayoclinic.com)."

In order to proper manage stress through good sleep habits, people need to develop a regimented bed time routine to help facilitate a good night's sleep. Proper stress management begins with proper time management. An early bed time is always suggested and the same consistent time is recommended as well. Eating too much food close to bed time affects many people's slumber (Gordon). The wrong kinds of food can cause heartburn, keeping dreams at bay. Room temperatures and humidity levels can interrupt sleep as well. People also tend to keep on many stimulants throughout the night that can cause them to wake. Turn off the television, phone, and computer so they do not disturb you and the room is completely dark. If tension is preventing you from entering dreamland, the National...
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