Stress Feeds Pain: Sleep Disorders

Sleep is an important bodily function, but it is difficult to get the sleep we need to be well-rested in our society. Many adults report problems sleeping; stress in our lives makes the problem worse and puts us at risk for the development of sleep disorders. Over half of people with anxiety disorders also report chronic sleep problems, but you don’t have to have a diagnosed anxiety disorder to have sleep that is affected by stress in your life.

The difference between occasional problems getting or staying asleep and a sleep disorder is that sleep disorders happen more than occasionally and impact a person’s ability to function. The most common sleep disorder is called insomnia. Insomnia describes being unable to get to sleep or stay asleep to the point where it is a disruptive problem in your life. People with insomnia may sleep less, wake up many times during the night, have low sleep quality, feel unrefreshed after sleeping and may need to take sleep aids to get to sleep. Acute or chronic stress can cause insomnia, and having insomnia can amplify stress and affect your mood and energy level during the day. Insomnia is the sleep disorder that is most commonly induced by high levels of stress.
Insomnia is best treated with lifestyle changes, with one of the most important changes being reduction of stress levels. You can’t always remove the stressful situation from your life, especially if your stress is caused by your job or other integral part of your life, but you can change how you deal with stress and how it affects your sleep. In order to improve sleep quality, remove all distractions from your bedroom, like TVs and computers, and make sure the room is comfortable in temperature, quiet and dark. Make sure that you set aside at least 7 hours for sleeping. It is easier to get good sleep on a consistent schedule rather than a rotating one, so try to go to bed at the same time each night. Exercising reduces stress and can result in better sleep, but if you exercise right before bed it will be more difficult to go to sleep. Take the time to do something relaxing before going to bed, it can help reduce stress and clear your mind. If you are suffering from anxiety, getting treatment for anxiety disorders can also help improve your sleep quality.

Non-Surgical Orthopaedics, P.C. specializes in pain and sleep disorders associated with pain. Call 770-421-1420 for more information.

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