Week 5: Why Stress Matters

Q. How do I know if I’m stressed?
A. Even though you may feel like you “handle” stress well, your body may be telling you otherwise. Common symptoms are increased cravings, trouble sleeping, irritability, mood swings, menstrual abnormalities, acne, headaches, etc.

Q. I have kids, a new puppy or stressful job. How am I supposed to get enough sleep?
A. When we have out of control stressors we need to focus on what we can control. Create a bedtime routine with the whole family and be consistent about it, including the puppy. Make sure you get to bed by 10 pm whenever possible, and minimize all possible distractions in your room. Using things like earplugs, eye masks, black out shades, and setting the thermostat a few degrees cooler can make sure you are setting yourself up for a good nights sleep.

Q. I have trouble falling asleep and/or staying asleep. What can I do?
A. There are many reasons that either of these situations can occur. The most common are excess sugar and/or caffeine throughout the day and unmanaged, chronic stress. Make sure your breakfast and dinner are both balanced and contain enough protein. Cut off caffeine intake by noon, and try a few minutes of stretching or deep breathing before bed. Also, alcohol may help you fall asleep quicker, but it reduces the important restorative rapid eye movement (REM) sleep the second half of the night.

Q. Why is 7-9 hours of sleep the necessary amount of hours to get every night?
A. Every day our bodies are going through physical, mental and emotional stressors and in order to bounce back from these we need to rest and allow our bodies to recover during our natural circadian rhythm, which for most occurs between 10pm-6am.

Q. Why do I eat when I’m stressed?
A. Your body can respond to stress by relying on its “fight or flight” response. This response stimulates our adrenal glands to produce more cortisol, which in turn raises our blood sugar. This can lead to sugar cravings which is often why we “crave sugar” when we feel stress.