We often associate stress with being on edge. However, we tend to overlook how stress and tiredness go hand in hand. Look back at times when you had a lot of stress at work or at home. At those times, you probably felt drenched and exhausted. So, why is it we feel this way?
Deirdre Conroy, clinical director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Clinic at Michigan Medicine’s Sleep Disorders Centers, has a theory on this matter. According to Conroy, stress interferes with our sleep cycle and, therefore, leads to the feeling of tiredness. Conroy said: “When we’re under a lot of stress, the continuity and quality of the sleep can be affected. It might take longer to fall asleep, or we might have frequent or sustained awakenings during the night after we have fallen asleep.”
It is not only sleepiness, however, but also extreme fatigue. When we get stressed, we enter into a fight-or-flight mode. For those of you who don’t know, the fight-or-flight response is a physiological reaction that occurs in response to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to survival. This mode takes a lot of energy and strength from us and could be another possible reasoning to why we feel so tired at times of great stress.
Another possible explanation could be using sleep as an escape mechanism for stress, as it can be so exhausting and frustrating. While sleeping short periods of time could be refreshing and charging, sleeping for too long can be harmful and lead us to be even more tired.
So, what can we do to handle this? First, if you are unsure of what causes your sleepiness and if it is normal, you should get it checked by a doctor. Second, you have to pay attention to your diet and exercise regimen. Make sure to drink enough water and exercise, so that your energy levels won’t crash. Lastly, make sure you have time for yourself. No matter how much stress you have at work or around you, you have to make sure you are taking care of yourself.