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How to deal with stress and sleeping disturbance in our daily life?


Relax women looking at the sea

Ohhh stress... who hasn't ever felt stressed? Unlike what you might think, stress is not an emotion, but a natural biological phenomenon that affects everyone, usually (and fortunately!) for a short time. It can be beneficial, turning our brain into "200% mode" and pushing us to perform at our best. This stress is a driving force and helps us to move forward. But what to do when it becomes chronic and ruins our lives? When it paralyses us, prevents us from finding the words we want to say, and keeps us tossing and turning in bed, rehashing our ideas, projects and worries?


Stress

What is i?


According to an OpinionWay survey carried out in 2017 for the Ramsay Générale de santé Foundation, only 11% of the 1,017 French people questioned said they were "not at all" stressed.


First of all, it's important to understand that stress is our body's reaction to a stressful situation or factors. These reactions have existed since the dawn of time. Prehistoric Man survived his predators by fleeing thanks to stress. It is also stress that enables us to react to danger, for example a sudden obstacle on the road.


Our body responds to stress in 2 or 3 phases: the alarm phase during which the body prepares to react by increasing its heart rate and level of alertness. This provides energy to the organs that may need it. This is followed by resistance, should the situation persist. Run or fight. Most of the time, that's as far as it goes, you're safe and sound and everything returns to normal. But when a stressful situation is prolonged, or worse, intensified, exhaustion sets in. The body's capacities are exceeded and it is overwhelmed by hormones that can have a negative effect over the long term.


Consequences of too much stress


Curious, we conducted a little tour of the effects of stress within the Abyss Ingredients team, and the result is this:


Poll realised internally (2024) about mental, physical and psychological and consequences of stress sur le corps.

Overall, stress can have an impact on soooo many things in our bodies.


Infography about stress consequences on our body.

Sleep


Unsurprisingly, the quality of our sleep is affected by our stress level, and viciously, fatigue can make us irritable, nervous, and stressed.


This is the rhythm of our lives


Apologies to all the people who live life at 200km/h and think it's OK: our body needs to follow a rhythm, called the circadian rhythm, which is imposed on us by our internal biological clock. This clock is 'timed' to external factors such as outside temperature or light and influences our body temperature, our memory (which consolidates better at night), etc. Basically, there's a right time for every task.


What's more, several years of research into chronobiology (the study of the body's biological rhythms) have shown that disrupting our circadian rhythm leads to dysfunction in other spheres: the immune, metabolic, cardiovascular and sleep systems! It's all linked!


The different sleep phases


For many people, going to bed means putting our brains to rest, whereas in reality our sleep is precisely orchestrated throughout the night. A night's sleep is made up of a succession of 3 to 6 phases, each lasting between 60 and 120 minutes and made up of the following phases:

 

  • Falling asleep: the phase during which you try to stay awake while watching television or reading a book in which you've been rereading the same sentence for 10 minutes;

  • Light sleep, when Dad hogs the remote control even though he seems to be asleep, but the moment you reach for the remote, he tells you he's still watching TV;

  • Deep sleep, when you're in the arms of Morpheus, too good! 😊

  • REM sleep: this is one of the most fascinating and mysterious phases of our sleep for science! It involves intense brain activity and dreams. It accounts for around 20-25% of overall sleep time, which evolves throughout our lives. Studies have highlighted its crucial role, demonstrating abnormalities in brain architecture in cases of REM sleep deprivation.


N.B. falling asleep is normally happening just once during the night...

 

Illustration of different sleep phases.

So what happens when you don't sleep well?


As ordinary as the need to sleep may seem, 1/3 of French people suffer from sleep disorders. These include dyssomnias, parasomnias and sleep disorders of psychiatric or neurological origin, or linked to other health conditions.


Dyssomnias are defined as a set of sleep disorders that alter the quality and quantity of sleep. Parasomnias, on the other hand, are symptoms that accompany sleep and disrupt it in ways that have "less impact" than dyssomnias. Finally, sleep disorders linked to other disorders can occur in the case of mental conditions such as depression, or neurological conditions such as migraines or Parkinson's disease, or other illnesses such as asthma or gastro-oesophageal reflux disease.Aussi banal que le besoin de dormir puisse paraître, 1/3 des Français présenteraient pourtant des troubles du sommeil. Parmi ces troubles, on retrouve les dyssomnies, les parasomnies et les troubles du sommeil d’origine psychiatrique, neurologique ou liés à d’autres maladies.


Infography about different sleep disorders.

Tips for reducing stress and getting a better night's sleep


  1. First tip for less stress: get a good night's sleep! 🥱 We imagine you saw that one coming. But it's hard to have a good day when you've had a restless night and you're all tired and grumpy.

  2. And to get a good night's sleep, there's nothing like following your own rhythm ⏰ ! Of course, we don't all have the same rhythm! Take the frenetic pace of teenagers, who need 10 hours sleep a day and tend to go to bed late: the rhythm imposed by school, from 8am to 5.30pm, is not favourable to them. Following your own pace also means listening to yourself. Are you yawning while watching the last episode of Colombo when it's "only" 9.30pm? If so, go to bed and listen to your body. It knows what it needs. Rhythm means regularity. Which also means not changing your routine too much at the weekend. So try to get up at the same time every morning. Yes, even on Sundays.

  3. Bedroom = sleep 💤 Ideally, the bedroom should be reserved exclusively for sleep (and privacy): no screens and no more scrolling through videos of cute animals on Instagram. Ideally, it should be 18°C and pitch black.

  4. To sleep well, get prepared! 📱 Avoid a big dinner just before going to bed - even if it's raclette season - and avoid stimulants, including alcohol (which is perfect with raclette...), screens and intensive sports activities in the 2 hours before going to bed. Granny Claire's advice: a little soup, some cheese, an infusion and off to bed! 🍲 

  5. Practise a regular sporting activity! 🏃‍♂️ We never repeat it enough! We're not talking about running 10 km every day when you hate it, but regular, appropriate physical activity allows you to fill up on endorphins and dopamines (the happy hormones). So you feel better in your body, and better in your head.

  6. Meditate and learn how to breath 🧘 And avoid thinking that you won't be able to sleep - that's the best way to make sure you won't. Instead, think about the positive things that happened during the day. If it's difficult because bad days happen to everyone, think back to good memories, or imagine your next holiday.


As we all know, that's easier said than done. If we had to remember one thing: listen to yourself, trust yourself. And above all, take care of yourself.


Get a good night's sleep! 😴


 

References

https://www.inserm.fr/dossier/chronobiologie/

Les troubles du sommeil liés au rythme circadien - inphysiofr

Sommeil paradoxal : définition, rôle et bienfaits (qare.fr)

Décrypter les cycles du sommeil : Clés pour une nuit réparatrice – Cycle du sommeil (cycle-du-sommeil.fr)

Graphique: Les Français face au stress | Statista

Les cas d’anxiété et de dépression sont en hausse de 25 % dans le monde en raison de la pandémie de COVID-19 (who.int)

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