What is stress? Stress is a physical and emotional reaction when you are adjusting to changes occurring in your daily life. This concerns changes that disrupt normality or the normal course of events in a way that you feel compelled to adjust. Long-term or prolonged stress can eventually lead to changes in physical processes that will make your health more vulnerable.
Causes of stress are not only the major life changes (such as the death of a loved one, divorce or moving house). At least as important are daily occurring frustrations.
In today's world private and professional life are often intermingled. And we constantly are faced with stimuli in the form of phones, tablets, computers, television, social media. It's harder to relax or unwind. A busy social life is also a cause for stress, just like prolonged workload.
As we age we experience more stress, in particular because the responsibilities in our lives increase. You can think of family care for parents or a loved one, care for children, financial burdens or concern for the future. We can also experience anxiety and stress when we notice physical decline. In addition, as we age we can manage or handle stress less well.
Almost 25% of the Dutch population experiences sleep problems. An even bigger percentage indicates that sleep quality is poor. In the UK 36% of the people struggle to get to sleep at least on a weakly basis and nearly half of the people in the UK have trouble falling asleep at least once a month.
There are two types of sleep: Deep sleep (non-REM), particularly at the beginning of the night. And REM-sleep (dreamsleep). We experience several sleep cycles during the night, transitioning to and from deep sleep and REM sleep.
As we get older, we experience a decrease in sleep duration. Moreover, our deep sleep stages decrease as our superficial sleep stages increase. The quality of sleep is often compromised because we wake up more often because we have to use the bathroom or because we are quicker awakened by noise.
Healthy sleep tends to be underrated in today's society. We are going to bed much later due to busy social schedules, work stress, caring for children and distractions in the form of television and social media. These stressors are also keeping us awake for longer. Poor sleep quality means the body doesn't have time to repair itself.
Poor sleep also leads to fluctuations in circadian rhythm, resulting in poorer performance during the day. Did you know that healthy sleep patterns and dreams can improve academic performance and memory?