We turn the spotlight on the effect stress has on our sleep. We all feel stress at some point in our lives; it’s a natural response in certain situations, such as rushing to catch a train.
However, more serious or long-lasting stress, such as money and job worries, can affect every aspect of our lives.
We don’t all respond to stress in the same way. Some people feel angry and irritable, others feel anxious and may worry about every little thing. Sleeping problems are one of the most common symptoms of stress, and the knock-on effect of poor sleep can affect our health, both physically and mentally, which then affects our work and family life.
Lying awake at night, longing for sleep to come? You may be among the 30 per cent of people in the UK who are affected by long- or short-term insomnia.
“If your stress is causing depression, you may find that, although you may fall asleep quickly, you wake up earlier the next morning. So you can find that you’re having early morning blues.”
Obstructive sleep apnoea
If you have obstructive sleep apnoea (also known as OSA), it means that every night you snore very heavily, and repeatedly stop breathing for ten seconds or longer. The result is that your blood and brain become short of oxygen, and you wake with a start, taking in deep gulps of air.
Being overweight, male (about 4 per cent of middle-aged men have OSA, compared to about 2 per cent of middle-aged women), over 40, and drinking and smoking are some of the factors that can put you at risk of OSA. Women are at increased risk if they are post-menopausal or obese.
Sleep apnoea can make you irritable or depressed, and can affect your memory and ability to concentrate. OSA can be dangerous as it can cause daytime sleepiness, which can put you at greater risk of falling asleep the following day, for instance while driving or using machinery. OSA is also associated with high blood pressure, which increases your risk of heart attack, stroke and other conditions. If you think you may have this condition, see your GP.