Mind-Body Health and Treating Sleeping Issues

Dr. Craig Hudson, MD | August 24, 2016

The human body is a responsive machine. When it is unhappy, it will let you know. Stress can often trigger these physical responses. When you ignore mental strains and attempt the “tough it out” approach, you may actually be increasing the likelihood of temporary sleep issues becoming chronic.

Physical Symptoms of Mental Stress

If you are feeling anxious or nervous, you might, for example, get an upset stomach or sweaty palms. Stress can also impact your sleep. It might keep you awake at night, tossing and turning. Perhaps, it will increase your heart rate or raise your body temperature so that you constantly feel flushed.

Insomnia is another way your mind might indicate unhappiness among your body. If you are going through a stressful time in your life and you have not taken steps to alleviate the mental pressure of carrying this stress, your body may cope with this new pressure by disrupting your sleep. Insomnia is commonly, if not frequently, associated with mental strain.

Avoiding the Snowball Effect

It is easy to get into bad habits when we are under a great deal of stress. Some bad habits might include missing meals, consuming too much caffeine, over-eating junk food, lack of exercising and having an inconsistent bedtime. When our circumstances cause us to slip up on maintaining healthy habits, we tend to invite repercussions. Insomnia is closely linked to neglecting healthy living (both mind and body).

Self-Care Tips:

  • Make sleep a priority. Healthy sleep hygiene is very important in combatting mind/body health. This means setting a bedtime and nightly routine, and sticking to it. Do not treat it as something you can sacrifice.
  • Try meditation and breathing exercises to cope with waves of stress. When you start to feel stressful situations are overwhelming you, take a moment to deal with your anxiety - head on. Engage in deep breathing or spare a few minutes to engage in quiet meditation. Disengaging from the situation and destressing in the moment may help you approach the stressful situation in a more productive way.  
  • Walk off your intense emotions. When you are dealing with anger or intense sadness, some fresh air and exercise can help shift your mood. Soothing these feelings can, in turn, help you sleep more soundly.
  • Practice healthy mind/body routine. Stay active, practice healthy eating, make yourself and your mental health a top priority. Take care of you and make sure that you are not damaging your mind and/or body.
  • Seek help from a mental health professional. A psychologist or therapist can show you tools to cope with your stress levels. They can also help you come up with a plan for dealing with reoccurring stressors.