When Sleep Meets Stress

When Sleep Meets Stress
Natalie Stein

Exercise, Fitness & Nutrition Expert | Lark Health

Sleep, meet stress. Stress, meet sleep. If you are having trouble sleeping because your mind will not quit running, stress may be getting in the way of your sleep. If you feel drained and not at your best during the day, poor sleep may be getting in the way of stress management. Stress and sleep go hand in hand, and this is how to get a handle on them both.

How Sleep Affects Stress

Have you ever heard, “Things will look better in the morning?” That statement is actually true! The situation really does look brighter in the morning because sleep reduces stress. 

In one study among almost 2,000 participants, researchers looked at relationships between sleep and stress [1]. They asked people to record their hours of sleep in a daily diary and report the positive and negative events in their lives and their reactions to these events. Researchers found that people reported a greater negative reaction when they had slept less the night before compared to less of a negative reaction when they had slept more.

Why does this happen? One reason is that sleep lowers levels of stress hormones, while lack of sleep raises them. In effect, the less sleep you get, the more stress you have. Another reason is that getting enough sleep lets you be at your best the next day with good energy and clear focus. Miss out on sleep, and you are likely to be less focused and more inefficient. That can be stressful in itself.

How Stress Affects Sleep

If you are stressed out, saying, “Sleep it off” may not be too helpful. People who are under a lot of stress can lie awake at night, worrying about all kinds of things. The result is poor sleep that leads to increased levels of stress hormones. Another effect is feeling tired the next day, and being less productive and efficient, which can further increase stress.

Tips to Sleep Better and Manage Stress

How can you break the cycle of less sleep leading to more stress, leading to less sleep? Lark can help with small changes in your daily routines that can help manage stress and improve sleep quality. These are some changes that can help with both sleep and stress.

  • Increasing physical activity levels.
  • Reducing caffeine consumption in the afternoon and evening.
  • Eating fewer fried foods, highly processed foods, and sugar-laden foods and beverages.
  • Participating in relaxing activities, such as reading, sewing, or playing board games, before bed instead of using a smartphone or another device with a screen.

Lark can help with these and other tips for better sleep, as well as provide coaching on stress management techniques for all areas of life. In a short time, sleep can improve, energy can increase, and stress can get under control.