Sleepless nights, anxiety and stress are closed linked. No wonder why you feel so under the weather, anxious and with difficulties in focusing on simple working tasks after a restless night. On work environment, sleep has a greater impact on brain productivity, creativity and innovation, compromising your work performance. The Business of Health 2020 report (1), showed that more than half (56%) of office workers don’t think they get enough sleep + job stress is the top cause behind employees’ sleepless nights, with more than a third (34%) stating that stress stops them from getting enough sleep.
Sleep is a restoring system the evolution kept over the millennia. A good night of restful sleep restores body’s systems, including hormonal balancing. Cortisol, is a necessary hormone for the body, that controls from heartbeats to sugar levels. It also communicates with brain regions that control mood, motivation and fear, therefore cortisol is often called “the stress hormone”. After a very stressful day, the cortisol response can go wild, and in the long-term, the activation of the stress-response system and the overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones that follows can disrupt almost all your body's processes, leading to anxiety, depression, sleepless nights, memory impairment, weight gain among other problems.
But how sleep can help with stress and anxiety?
A ground breaking research, published in Nature, conducted by one of world leading scientists in sleep Dr. Mathew Walker, shows that a sleepless night can increase 30% anxiety feelings (2). His team carried an investigation using MRI scanning the brain during a full night of sleep and a sleepless night. Anxiety levels were measured following each session via a questionnaire known as the state-trait anxiety inventory. The brain scans showed that after a sleepless night, the participants showed a shutdown of the medial prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain that normally helps to keep our anxiety in check, while the brain’s deeper emotional centers were overactive. The results also showed that after a full night of sleep, during which participants’ brain waves were measured via electrodes placed on their heads, anxiety levels dropped significantly, especially for those who experienced more slow-wave NREM sleep (a deep sleep state).
How to sleep better when I’m stressed and overworking?
Here are 5 tips to help you to sleep better when you are feeling anxious and overstressed.
- Exercise in the morning: exercise help to regulate cortisol levels during the day, helping your circadian rhythm to be back on track and decreasing anxiety.
- Disconnect: we recommend to not check your working emails, screen gadgets at least an hour prior bed time.
- Check your nutrition: avoid eating heavy and big meals late night + include Tryptophan and Magnesium rich foods (nuts, dark chocolate and milk) as these nutrients help your body to produce melatonin, the sleep hormone.
- Unwind your body: use the power of essential oil blends to relax your brain and muscles, to initiate the sleeping process.
- Calm down: stimulate your brain to initiate sleep process with a relaxing and natural tea, including chamomile or passion fruit teas.
"Deep sleep seems to be a natural anxiolytic (anxiety inhibitor), so long as we get it each and every night." Dr. Matthew Walker
In conclusion, achieving deep sleep is paramount for a better quality of life. Sleep restores mental and physical health + promotes emotional balance.
Just in time:
Make sure you and your team are getting enough Zzzs and in any case our sleep experts can help you to achieve better sleep through our Sleep Map appointments. We also have sleep gift sets for corporate gifting.
2. Overanxious and underslept. Nature Human Behaviour (2019).