Not every person responds to stress with disruption to their sleep, however it is extremely common. It’s individuals with a highly reactive sleep system who experience greater deterioration in their sleep during stressful times.
Poor sleep quality has a negative impact on our ability to cope with stress causing exaggerated cognitive-emotional responses, therefore exasperating stress again. For this reason, breaking the stress-insomnia cycle is vital to recovery from stressful situations and the insomnia which comes as a consequence.
How does stress alter sleep?
Brain wave patterns required for rest and sleep are delta and theta brain waves, whereas those involved in attention, focus, stress and anxiety are primarily beta brain waves. An imbalance in brain wave activity, such as an increase in beta waves due to stress, is associated with insomnia and restoring balance can improve sleep.
Stress also causes increased arousal through activation of the sympathetic nervous system and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal, axis resulting in a release of stress hormones such as adrenocorticotropin releasing hormone (ACTH), corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH), cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline.
These hormones impact sleep as their decline in the later part of the day and overnight is required for relaxation and restorative sleep. When there is hypthalamic-pituary-adrenal dysfunction, those hormones are altered (often elevated in the evening rather than the morning) and this elevation causes an increase in sleep latency and sleep fragmentation.
Yvette is a qualified Melbourne-based Naturopath and Nutritionist, MINDD Practitioner, member of the Naturopaths and Herbalists Association of Australia, and Complementary Medicine Association. Yvette specialises in the treatment of digestive complaints, skin issues, mood disorders, hormonal concerns, fatigue, and also has a key interest in children’s digestive and neurological conditions. Yvette consults in South Yarra, Camberwell, and Australia-wide via Zoom. Book HERE