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  • Writer's pictureMartha Lewis

The 2 kinds of stress that cause insomnia

Updated: Mar 23

All health issues, including insomnia, are ultimately caused by stress.

There are 2 kinds of stress that cause insomnia.

  1. Mental stress: rushing around all day, getting in a fight with your partner, worrying about money, etc. This kind of stress is defined as the feeling of being overwhelmed or unable to cope with mental or emotional pressure.

  1. Physical stress: being exposed to a parasite or virus, drinking too much alcohol, exercising too much, etc. And there can be underlying health issues you don't even know about, such as hormone imbalances, an unhealthy gut, liver detox issues, etc., that are causing stress.

Stress bucket

We can handle a certain amount of stress. Imagine this amount of stress filling a bucket. The stress in that bucket is made up of both kinds of stress: mental and physical stress. When your stress bucket overflows, your body can’t handle it and so it affects your health and your sleep.

You know about the mental stress that you have and you want to lower that as much as possible. That’s why meditation and yoga and journaling and therapy is recommended for anyone with sleep issues. But that’s only half of the puzzle.

If you have a lot of physical stress, even if you don’t know it’s there, then any little bit of extra mental stress will make your bucket spill over. If you feel like the littlest things stress you out, then this could be why.

So you also want to lower your physical stress so that you can handle more mental stress. Then your sleep won't be interrupted by a busy week at work or an upcoming presentation or your kids getting in trouble at school.

I help my clients reduce both kinds of stress as much as possible so their bucket doesn’t overflow anymore and then they can sleep normally.

How stress affects your body

When you are stressed, your body releases cortisol to deal with it. Cortisol increases your blood pressure and heart rate, moves energy away from digestion and other non-survival functions, and helps you focus and concentrate. A cortisol surge feels good because cortisol fights inflammation and is a natural painkiller. This is why it’s easy to get addicted to stress.

Over time, your body won’t have the resources to make enough cortisol to deal with all the stress. So cortisol gets depleted/dysregulated.

You know your cortisol is out of balance if you have:

  • Belly fat

  • Increased appetite and cravings

  • Mood issues

  • Lowered immunity

  • Low libido

  • Low energy or energy fluctuates throughout the day

  • Low blood sugar

  • High or low blood pressure

  • Cold body temperature

  • Sleep issues

If you're constantly stressed in your body and/or your mind, your body will uses all of its resources to make cortisol which will take those resources away from making your sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone).

You may start to notice symptoms of hormone imbalance:

  • Hot flashes or night sweats

  • Mood swings

  • Weight gain in hips

  • Foggy thinking and memory loss

  • Heart palpitations

  • Aches and pains

  • Fatigue

  • Hair loss or excess hair growth

  • Irritability

This hormone imbalance causes more stress to your body.

Stress makes you more susceptible to illness and pathogens in your gut. You may have blood sugar issues, even if you’re eating a healthy diet. You may notice hypothyroid symptoms like cold hands and feet, fatigue, and inability to lose weight. You can develop inflammation, gut infections, liver detox issues, nutrient deficiencies and mineral imbalance. All of these things can cause abnormal sleep.

Your genes determine what systems in your body break down first. For those of us prone to insomnia, our brain tissue breaks down, causing sleep issues, brain fog and memory problems.

If you don’t do anything to get back in balance, your body is going to keep breaking down. This is when you start developing diseases and disorders of all kinds, including chronic fatigue syndrome, cancer, and autoimmunity.

It all starts with stress!

The only way to heal is to find everything that’s causing stress in your body and your mind and correct them so that you can sleep normally. This is exactly what my program does. I use lab testing to uncover the stressors in your body. And I help you perceive everyday stressors differently so that you don’t have the fight or flight stress response in your body.

If you’re ready to lower stress in your body and your mind so you can sleep normally, I can help. Book a call with me to talk about how you’re sleeping now and how you’d like to be sleeping in a few months and I’ll tell you the steps to get there:

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