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Stress & Insomnia – a Catch 22

While we can all relate to stress from time to time, chronic stress has serious implications for our general health and sleep. The Stress Management Society describe stress as a modern epidemic. The Mental Health Foundation state that 74% of UK adults have felt so stressed at some point over the last year that they have been overwhelmed and unable to cope. I think it is fair to suggest that stress, mental health and the anxiety it causes are the true pandemic of our time.

Stress is a significant factor in mental health problems including anxiety and depression. It is also linked to physical health problems like heart disease, problems with our immune system, insomnia and digestive problems. Individually we need to understand what is causing us personal stress and learn what steps we can take to reduce it for ourselves and those around us.

What is Stress?

Stress can be defined as the degree to which you feel overwhelmed or unable to cope as a result of pressures that we perceive as unmanageable. Stress is a physiological, internal response to an external event or situation, and it is a subjective because, what stresses one person, another will be unaffected by.

When we encounter stress, our body produces stress hormones that trigger the ‘fight, flight or freeze’ response, the main two being:

In summary, stress describes your emotional/behavioural response to the stressor.

How Stress Affects Sleep

Stress and sleep are interlinked: if you don’t sleep well , your body produces the stress hormones, yet too much of the stress hormones will prevent sleep. The longer this cycle goes on, the more impact this has on your heart and blood pressure. Worse still, poor sleep can really reduce your quality of life, reduce longevity and even increase the risk of suicide. (1-3)

What is becoming increasingly evident from research is the role of a healthy gut in terms of a strong immune system, but did you know gut health also helps your sleep and, in turn, your mental health? 4,5 You can sign up to receive my Top 7 Tips, to include gut health, here.

What Causes Stress?

The causes of stress are numerous and will be as unique as the person experiencing it but below are some common stressors:

Are You Stressed or Under Pressure?

Whatever the cause, sleep deprivation is experienced by the body as trauma, and results in production of stress hormones. And there’s a catch-22: the chronic (vs temporary, short-lived) presence of stress hormone creates insomnia.

PYSCHOLOGICAL

EMOTIONAL

PHYSICAL

BEHAVIOURAL

A Time to Rethink Stress

We have already discussed that stress describes an internal response to a perceived stressor. If external stressors are subjective, meaning they vary from person to person, herein lies a clue:

if the external stressor is the same, what is it that informs a reaction to it?

It is our thinking about the stressor that leads to our response. And we can change our thinking in a heartbeat. When we realise that our thinking is not fact, but just a neutral thing, and that we dress it up as ‘positive’, ‘negative’, ‘good’ or ‘bad’, ‘terrifying’, ‘boring’, etc., it is a (4) relief to know that you are in control, as opposed to a slave to your mind, thoughts and, in
turn, emotions.

Think about that for a moment – it has huge implications. And then consider that it is our background, experience and beliefs that load the neutral thought with a positive or negative connotation. That is stress management in a nutshell.

For more information about this different way of thinking that is relevant for just about anything ‘out there’ and its perceived threat to us, you can read more around The Three Principles, or 3Ps discovered by Sydney Banks in the 1970s. Sleepability recommends:

My Top Tips for Stress Management

Sleepability recommends the following stress busting tips to factor into your daily routine:

  • Laying down, breathe in for a count of 3, as you say to yourself, ‘I breathe in’. 
  • Notice how your belly rises on the in breath Hold your breath for a count of 4
  • As you breathe out for a count of 5, say to yourself, ‘I breathe out’.  Notice how your belly drops.

You will feel rejuvenated, your digestion will improve and you will feel calmer, and more able to drift off to restorative sleep.

Bach Flower Remedies for Stress Management

The following flower remedies are my ‘go to’ generic remedies which will help in most stressful situations. For optimum results to help you de-stress and sleep better, contact me to work on a confidential, 1:1 and bespoke basis. I bring to you over 20 years’ experience as a Homeopath and Natural Health Consultant so you can be assured of expert help to resolve your stress and sleep problems. Flower remedies work on an emotional level. They are safe to take with medication and are gentle yet effective to help you find a more balanced perspective during times of stress.

Sleepability: the roots & branch approach to insomnia

Sleepability is unique in that I specialise in using natural, safe and proven remedies and relaxation techniques to help reduce stress levels and restore sleep. I have 20 years’ experience as a natural health practitioner, using Homeopathy, Stress Management, Natural Nutrition and relaxation techniques, which has helped many clients with their sleep, stress and associated health conditions.

Over the years, I have learned that symptoms are rarely the problem itself, but a messenger from the body that something is out of synch. This leads to a completely different perception of a case and, in turn, treatment options and it this flexibility that makes the most complex cases accessible. I call this the ‘roots & branch’ approach to insomnia, where the underlying causes are treated rather than just the symptoms. There is plenty of research to prove the efficacy of natural remedies, nutrition and relaxation techniques for sleep, stress and general wellness. (12-17)

The SleepBundle Packages

Each of the SleepBundles has been designed to offer clients three flexible and affordable treatment plans which are the culmination of my experience of working with clients over 20 years. You will have the time and space to share your story with me confidentially.

Expert case taking will identify any potential causative factors and lead to a bespoke treatment plan using proven natural remedies and relaxation techniques. The packages focus on gently easing your body off of red alert as, only then, will you relax and be able to sleep again, naturally.

Contact me for confidential, bespoke support to learn to sleep again, naturally.

Invest in your rest. Because sleep matters.

Coronavirus – https://sleepcouncil.org.uk/blog/Stress

1 Kalmbach et al, 2018: “The impact of stress on sleep: Pathogenic sleep reactivity as a vulnerability to insomnia and circadian disorders” – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29797753/

2 Medrano-Martinez & Ramos-Platon, 2016: “Cognitive and emotional alterations in chronic insomnia”https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26860722/Stress & Insomnia https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/stress-and-insomnia;

3 Woznica et al, 2015: ‘The insomnia and suicide link: toward an enhanced understanding of this relationships https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25454672/Sleep &Immunity

4 Irwin & Opp, 2017: ‘Sleep Health: reciprocal regulation of sleep and innate immunity’ –
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27510422/

5 Li et al, 2018: – ‘The role of the microbiome in insomnia, circadian disturbance and insomnia –
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6290721/Sleep & Mental Health

6 Harvard Mental Health Letter, 2019: ‘Sleep deprivation can harm your mental health’ –
https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/Sleep-and-mental-health

Workplace Stress

7 CIPD, 2020: “Quarter of employees believe bullying and harassment are overlooked” –
https://www.cipd.co.uk/about/media/press/bullying-harassment-overlooked
https://www.cipd.co.uk/podcasts/menopause

8 Linton, S, 2004: “Does work stress predict insomnia? A prospective study” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15125800/

9 Utsugi, M et al, 2005: “Relationships of Occupational Stress to Insomnia and Short Sleep in Japanese Workers” https://academic.oup.com/sleep/article/28/6/728/2708025

10 The Mental Health Foundation, September 2020: “Stress and Insomnia” – The Sleep Foundation report that https://www.sleepfoundation.org/insomnia/stress-and-insomnia

11 Chaturbhuja, N et al, 2011: ‘ Management of distress during climacteric years by homeopathic therapy’ –
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22087613/

CAM
12 Wei, M, Harvard Health Publishing, 2015: “Yoga for Better Sleep” – https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/8753-
201512048753

13 Naude et al, 2010: “Chronic primary insomnia: efficacy of homeopathic simillimum” –
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20129178

14 Michael et al, 2019: “Efficacy of individualised homeopathic treatment of insomnia: double blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial” – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30935555/

15 Villet et al, 2016: “Open-label observational study of homeopathic medicine Passiflora for anxiety and sleep disorders” –
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26828002/

16 Balaji Deekshitulu, 2019: “P V. Mental Health for Flower Remedies” – International Journal of Philosophical Research, 2019;
1:3.

17 Lillehei, A & Halcon, L, 2014: “A systematic review of the effect of inhaled essential oils on sleep” –
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24720812/

Books
‘Why We Sleep: the new science of sleep and dreams’ by Matthew Walker

“Clarity” by Jamie Smart

“Instant Motivation” by Chantal Burns

“The Inside-Out Revolution” by Michael Neil

“Recovery from Within: a mother and daughter’s journey through anorexia’ by Rebecca Perkins and Beatrice Arscott

The Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton

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