Sleep Deprivation and Stress
Are you too busy to get a good night’s sleep? Do you use your night trying to fit in jobs you didn’t have time to get done through the day?
Some activities, such as working or caring for dependents, are usually classified as being unavoidable. That’s because they usually are! Other activities such as socialising and entertainment, even though optional and discretionary, are still considered by most as necessary for a fulfilling life.
Sleep is often slotted into whatever time is left available after everything else has been attended to or indulged in.
However, would you prioritise sleep if you knew that it can help make you more capable of achieving your desired level of productivity? Or that it can strengthen your immune system and help prevent a slew of diseases and conditions?
Adequate sleep and healthy sleep patterns can prevent Alzheimer’s Disease manifesting later in life, and can assist in repairing the effects of chronic stress now.
Anyone who has lain awake after a hard day knows exactly how it feels when stress makes sleep so elusive. The link between stress and sleep is very much a two-way street. While stress can make it difficult to fall asleep, sleep deprivation can largely contribute to causing stress and worsening its effects and symptoms.
Shift Work Sleep Disorder
Whether you are working as a long-haul truck driver or a college student pulling an all-nighter just to beat your assignment deadline, lack of sleep definitely takes a toll on your physical and emotional health. We are not nocturnal creatures. This is why those who are working on the night shift will often find themselves having difficulty overcoming their natural diurnal pattern and sleeping on demand.
Sleep deprivation is very common among night shift workers. It has become prevalent enough for it to have an official name: ‘shift work sleep disorder’.
The book titled Principles and Practice reported that night workers often have five to ten hours less sleep every week than those who are working a regular daytime schedule. Medscape Neurology and Neurosurgery reported that those people working on a night shift are at higher risk of suffering from stress. In turn, they are more prone to different kinds of stress-related health problems such as heart disease, hypertension, infertility, weakened immune system and stomach problems.
How Stress Impacts Quality of Sleep
Most people find it hard to sleep at night as they ruminate on stressful thoughts. Several scientific studies show that stress can have a huge impact on a person’s quality and quantity of sleep. Individuals suffering from insomnia were found to experience a greater number of stressful events in life compared to people who were not insomniacs.
Studies also show that personal perception or appraisal of stress can either increase or reduce the tendency to suffer from insomnia. This means that even if you have not been experiencing situations which others may consider stressful, but you perceive these things to be stressful, you will more likely to suffer from insomnia.
This reinforces the understanding that lack of sleep and stress both negatively impact the other. The bottom line is that sleep, or the lack of it, has a huge influence on the number of stressful events that you will likely to experience and how you well you will be able to deal with them.
Sleep Deprivation Influences an Individual’s Perception
Lack of sleep can strongly influence your perception of the events that are happening in your life. In order to support this statement, a study was conducted in which the participants were asked to take an exam that was judged to mildly stressful. The results indicate that those participants who were sleep deprived experienced higher levels of stress while taking the exam compared to participants who had no issues with sleeping difficulties. Other research done outside the laboratory also showed that sleep deprivation leads to psychological strain and stress.
The good news is that you do not have to be a life-long victim of sleep deprivation and stress. Make the effort assess your lifestyle habits and make healthy changes to them. Subtle changes to behaviors and diet can provide increase to both amounts and quality of sleep. This will flow on to noticeable improvements in productivity and short and long term health, especially relating to overcoming stress and its effects.
© Dignity Street Foundation 2019