You been under stress at work for months, and now you cannot get to sleep until the alarm clock is about to ring. Could you have stress related insomnia?
Signs of Stress Related Insomnia
There are many reasons you can have insomnia and many of them dovetail with stress. However, if your insomnia occurs only after you have been under stress, you have stress related insomnia. Reducing your stress will help you regain nights of peaceful slumber.
Of course, the problem is sometimes more complicated.
Mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety, can also cause sleep disturbances and their symptoms (muscle tension, sweating palms, dry mouth and etc.) frequently mimic the symptoms of chronic stress. Plus, people under chronic stress are more prone to mood disorders.
Traditional Chinese Medicine and Insomnia
Chinese traditional medicine also recognizes stress related insomnia.
Qi is a basic concept in Chinese traditional medicine; qi, simply speaking, is the energy that flows through your body. Imbalances in qi produce health problems, including insomnia. Sleep disorders are due to either deficient qi or excess qi in the organs. An imbalance of qi in the kidneys is most frequently the cause of insomnia, and stress contributes to the imbalance of qi.
When the kidney qi is deficient, the kidneys are not strong enough to hold the energy inside. The qi rises and bothers the heart (the spirit), keeping the person awake. Stress, aging, and improper diet contribute to unbalanced kidney qi. Stress may also unbalance the liver qi, causing insomnia.
Practitioners of Chinese traditional medicine recommend various herbal remedies for insomnia. The source of the problem determines the treatment recommended.
Acupuncture is also quite effective in treating stress related insomnia. Besides balancing the qi, acupuncture releases endorphins, the body’s feel good hormones, inducing relaxation; some patients fall asleep during acupuncture treatment.
‘Expert’ advice on Relieving Stress Related Insomnia
There is a lot of information about getting to sleep when you have insomnia. In general, the following tips are typically advised by health professionals.
- Stress causes sleep disorders by putting you in a state of hyperarousal. Your nervous system is stilled keyed up and ready for activity when you go to bed. Establishing a pattern of calm relaxation for an hour or two before you retire for the night will allow your body to wind down and become ready for sleep.
- Establish a regular time pattern for going to bed and waking up. Sleeping in on the weekends, feels great at the time, but it confuses your body’s natural sleep rhythms, making it difficult to get to sleep on time. Chinese traditional medicine recommends going to bed by 9 pm.
- If you cannot sleep, don’t lay in bed tossing and turning for hours. Doing so conditions you to think of the bed as unpleasant place and will make you more stressed out when bedtime arrives. Many experts feel that it is better to get out of bed when you cannot sleep and return when you are sleepy (for an alternative perspective, please read about “Pretend you are sleeping”). A light snack such as a glass of milk or piece of toast can sometimes promote sleep, but eat heavy meals at least two hours before lying down.