There's no denying that the global COVID-19 pandemic is an extremely worrying and stressful situation for all of us. The influx of negativity on social media, scary news bulletins and uncertainty can really take a toll on our mental health... in turn, affecting our physical health and bodily functions, including sleep.
Recent studies have shown that one in four Brits name stress as being the main reason they lose sleep - and that was pre-Coronavirus. Prolonged amounts of stress has been proven to cause some serious disruption to our sleep-cycles and there are countless pieces of research naming the multitude of ways sleep deprivation affects our physical and mental well-being.
First of all, what is stress? Dr Hassan Yasin, psychiatrist and medical director at the Dr Yusra Clinic explains:
"When we feel under significant pressure or in danger, we have both a psychological and physiological response to it. This is what we refer to as stress. It is a useful tool that we have evolved to keep us alert to threats and motivate us to take action in our lives in order to reduce the pressure we may be under. This can be helpful to us when we have to balance the demands of busy jobs, family life and whatever else may be happening in our lives. It can provide the motivation to continue to meet the demands that are set on us. If however, these demands get too heavy stress can have negative impacts. It can affect how we feel about ourselves, how we react to situations and can even affect our relationships. It can have a significant impact on our mood and anxiety levels also. It can have significant impacts on us physically if we have prolonged periods of stress. We may notice that the stress triggers panic attacks, in which our breathing quickens, our muscles tense and our heart rate increases. It can also cause us to lose our libido, and have an impact on our blood pressure too. All of these physical changes can make us feel dizzy, or nauseous and can bring on headaches and sometimes even chest pains. The result is often a constant feeling of exhaustion and tiredness because of it. This can in turn make us feel very down in our mood, and some of us may actually enter a depression because of it. Constant stress can leave us feeling like there is a constant sense of dread, and worry about what lies ahead for us. This can have a knock on effect of making us not enjoy activities that we previously may have enjoyed."
Heightened levels of stress - developed in response to the current pandemic, can therefore bring about these symptoms in us; affecting our ability to function physically and mentally, interrupting or being detrimental to the quality of our sleep. So whilst we're on this topic - why is sleep so important for our health?
Sleep is incredibly important for our emotional and physical wellbeing. Dr Nina Bal, cosmetic dentist and aesthetic doctor agrees that sleep is of imperative importance when it comes to maintaining a healthy body and mind; adding that lack of sleep:
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