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How Sleep And Stress Affect Your Health

Let's be honest. Everyone is going to have an occasional sleep problem or a stressful time. Under normal circumstances, these problems are short-lived and then things go back to normal.

When sleep problems and stress become chronic problems, however, that is when these conditions start affecting your health.

Ongoing Sleep Problems

sinus-headache-1When a person has a sleeping disorder or chronic insomnia, a number of symptoms will appear. Mental conditions, like daytime sleepiness, decreased performance, and lack of alertness, are the most obvious immediate symptoms. It can also cause memory impairment and decreased cognitive ability.

What is not so obvious are the long-term physical problems that are linked to ongoing sleep problems. People suffering with sleeping disorders have a higher likelihood of developing serious medical conditions, including:

  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure
  • Irregular heartbeat

Insomnia may be linked to a higher chance of death. Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston published a study in 2013 that tracked 23000 men who reported ongoing sleep problems over a six-year period. The results were startling. Men who reported difficulty falling asleep had a 55 percent higher chance of death than men who reported no sleep issues. Men who had non-restorative sleep had a 32 percent higher chance of death.

Effects Of Chronic Stress

Stress can actually be a positive thing. It can give you the focus and drive to handle a crisis. But when stress becomes a never-ending thing, the body's stress responses never turn off. That is when problems start.

The central nervous system coordinates the body's response to stress. It will turn on certain hormones, like adrenaline and cortisol, when stress ramps up. These hormones bring up your energy levels and help to focus your mind. This will help you get through whatever crisis you are facing.

Under normal circumstances, when the stress is gone, the hormone release will cease and the body's hormone levels will return to normal. When the stress never goes away, however, the body is constantly flooded with these hormones. This causes a number of physical and mental symptoms, including irritability, anxiety, depression, headaches, insomnia, eating problems, alcohol/drug abuse, and social withdrawal. You also have a tendency to gain weight, especially around the midsection, which is difficult to lose.

Stress hormones also rev up the respiratory and cardiovascular systems. They increase the rate of respiration to draw in more oxygen. The heart beats faster to pump oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. When the body is under prolonged stress, the lungs and heart work overtime. This can lead to high blood pressure and cardiovascular problems, which increases the chance of stroke.

Both stress and sleep are key health components that affect the way someone ages. If you want to learn how to manage chronic stress and ongoing sleep issues, contact Matrix Age Management in Amarillo, Texas. We can help you decrease stress and implement better sleeping strategies along with managing other key aspects that affect the aging process, like nutrition and exercise.

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