Good sleep is one of the body’s best defense against stress

Stress is a useful defense mechanism in the short term, but chronic stress can be detrimental. Take time out each day to escape and unwind from stress, don’t skimp on your sleep, and try to avoid processed foods. As if high cortisol and poor sleep were not enough to worry about, stress can also lead us to poor nutrition. During fast-paced, high-stress times it is common for us to miss out on proper nutrition as we reach for quicker, convenient, and generally more processed foods.

Just when our bodies need more nutritional support, we often provide them with less. This can really sap energy and compound the already negative effects that stress has on our system. When we are short on time, sleep is usually the first thing we start to cut down. We are all guilty of skimping on sleep, but good sleep is one of the body’s best defences against stress and is crucial for proper immune function. A study looked at how much of an effect sleep can have, and the results were remarkable. Those who slept less than seven hours were almost three times more likely to get a cold than those who slept eight hours or more.
When researchers looked at the amount of time spent in bed with the intention of sleeping compared to how long people actually spent sleeping, even more interesting results surfaced. Those who spent less than 90 percent of their bedtime sleeping were over five times more likely to get a cold than those who spent 95 percent or more of their bedtime asleep. This demonstrates that it is not just a matter of lying down and resting that provides health benefits; we must actually get proper, restorative sleep in order to keep ourselves in peak form.

The effects of chronic stress are many and can be seen throughout the body:

  • sleeping too much
  • moodiness, irritability, or short temper
  • eating more or less
  • procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities
  • using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to relax
  • agitation, inability to concentrate or relax
  • depression
  • feeling overwhelmed, lonely, or isolated
  • memory problems
  • headaches, aches and pains
  • frequent colds
  • chest pain, rapid heartbeat
  • hormone imbalances
  • poor healing
  • immune suppression
  • cardiovascular disease

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