Stress: Short-term and Long-term Effects

Whether you have insomnia or not, stress is a part of everyday life. However, as I mentioned in a past post (Daily Tip to Help Relieve Stress), having insomnia puts stress in hyperdrive. In this post, I want to explain why it is so important to find ways to relieve stress, rather than let it build up inside us.

Short-term Effects 

There are many ways that stress can impact your everyday life. Stress does not just limit itself to your mood, it also affects your behavior and your body.images.jpg

One of the mot common effects of stress on the body is headaches. If you are like me, you’ll get random pings of pain by the temple area. If you’re home, putting a warm compress is the best way to help relieve the pain. However, if you are out and about, I have found the quickest remedy is to put peppermint oil on the temples.

Caution: Wash hands after, or you’ll end up accidently crying for 30 mins due to rubbing your eye with mint, just from my personal experience.

Other effects on your body can be muscle or chest pain, upset stomach, and sleep problems (oh joy).

Your mood can be extremely impacted by stress if you do not have a way to handle it. You may get restless and at the same time lack motivation to do anything.

Personal story time: My first semester of my sophomore year, many family issues presented themselves. At the same time, I was working crazy hours being a tutor for around 40 people. Throughout the semester, I continually pushed down the stress and pretended it wasn’t an issue. After going home for break and starting fresh my spring semester, I found myself completely unmotivated to do anything, whether it was my job, school, or personal life. It took me three months to get out of the funk, with lots of damage to not only myself but those that depended on me…meaning more stress.

So, don’t push down stress and it will always come back up five times worse as you may be more angry, sad, or have anxiety.

Long-term Effects

I am putting behavior affects under long-term because these tendencies picked up for short spurts will eventually become a long-term vice. Some of the most common behaviors are unhealthy eating habits (whether it be overeating or undereating) or abuse of drugs/alcohol.

Eventually, unmanaged stress will lead to health problems such as heart disease, obesity, or diabetes.

Ways to Manage Stress

Personally, I am still struggling to find ways to battle stress head on. Some tactics that I have found helpful are keeping a planner (some use journals, but I failed at writing my feelings) and writing every single thing I could think of. After, I list the hours of the day I had left and prioritized what was actually possible to get done in the day.

Try it out and let me know if it helps!

 

Sleep Aids: Ones that Have Worked

With modern day medicine, it is reasonable to assume that there is something out there that will help you sleep. However, I have found it quite difficult to find a liquid or pill that makes me falls asleep AND stay asleep. There have been times where I fall asleep quickly, and in 3 hours I am wide awake again or where its taken me 5 hours to knock out for the rest of the night.

So, to help my fellow insomniacs or anyone who wants a good night’s rest out there, here is a list of what I have found to be the best over-the-counter sleep aids:

 

4. If you’re new to sleep aids, I would suggest starting off with a product called Berry Sleepy.

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Berry Sleepy is unique in that it contains naturally occurring melatonin. In the past, I have tried other brands of melatonin that have left me waking up with only a few hours of good rest. Berry Sleepy, on the other hand, is a great moderate sleeping aid.

*When I say moderate sleeping aid I am referring to the overall strength. These will not leave you groggy in the morning and help you fall asleep fairly quickly.

Click here for more details!

3. Another melatonin product that has worked for me is Natrol Melatonin.

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What’s nice about Natrol is that it comes in different types. Above is the fast dissolve, but they also have liquid drops (so it gets into your bloodstream quickly) and time release (so that you can slowly work your way to bed).

Click here for more details!

2. One of my personal favorites has been ZzzQuil.

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The reason why ZzzQuil is one of my favorites (okay favorite) is that it took my body about a year to get used to it. With other sleep aids, you build up a tolerance fairly quickly, but with ZzzQuil a minuscule increase in dosage about every other month got me a year of great sleep (*I DID NOT TAKE IT EVERY DAY, probably three times a week).

ZzzQuil has come out with a pill version, which gets you around the lovely taste (think Nyquil), but I would recommend the liquid as it is stronger and has better results.

Click here for more details!

1. The strongest nonprescription sleeping aid that I have found is Kirkland.

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Kirkland will knock you out and give you a solid 8 hours of sleep no problem. Caution: This pill is for a weekend night where you know you’ll be lazy in the morning as it leaves you slightly groggy.

Click here for more details!

I hope that this post has given you some help in determining the next sleep aid to try!

Stories From an Insomniac

Being an insomniac means that you get to experience events that a majority do not. Most of these are just trivial experiences, and rather dull. However, some nights hold the most humorous stories, mostly revolving around watching individuals struggle to stay awake.

One of these highlights was during midterms week my freshman year of college. My roommate and I were going on the end of the week with very little sleep and cramming loads of material we should have had down weeks prior (oops). Now, because I’m used to getting a little amount of sleep, I was not impacted nearly to the extent that my roommate was. We made a pact that if either of us falls asleep the other was to wake them up by doing whatever means necessary. Lucky for me, that meant I spent a few hours squirting her with a water bottle to get her to wake up. By the time it reached 2 a.m. my roommate was on a one-way train to sleepville, so I sent her to walk around in the hallway (we lived in an apartment) and go up and down the stairs. She protested, huffed, and then went on her way. Thirty minutes pass by, and she had yet to come back. Knowing her, I assumed she was sitting in a stairwell somewhere sleeping. I slipped on my shoes, opened the door to search for her and there she was: face down on the dirty carpet, in a plank position, passed out. I burst out in laughter and in her half out of it stage- she whined/giggled back. I dragged her inside and asked what in the world would prompt her to sleep in the hallway. She responded, “I knew you would be angry if I slept so I went out to sleep.” Not long after she ended up on the floor in the same position, this time on a cleanish carpet:

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Tips to the Insomniacs: When to Get Help

If you are a regular human being, odds are you struggle to ask for help. I, for one, definitely do. When an individual refuses to ask for help it is for one of the three reasons:

a) the belief that it can be pushed through and the person will become stronger for it

b) that somehow asking for help will give the appearance that the individual is weak

c) the belief that the problem is not big enough to worry/annoy other people about

With insomnia, help seems to be a wishful idea. How can someone help with another’s sleeping habits? It is not like they can strap the insomniac down and POOF the person is sleeping.

However, insomniacs can easily put themselves in harm’s way without really noticing until it is too late. I’d like to give an example to help illustrate how I practically give myself heart attacks.

A few days ago, I had two major assignments that I had to get done, but I could feel the exhaustion getting to me. Nights prior had consisted of maybe three and a half hours of sleep. Feeling as though I had no choice, I ended up drinking two Monsters and a 5 Hour Energy. Now I know that sounds terrible and you’re probably thinking “she’s going to kill herself” or “how can someone think that’s okay” as this is what my roommates yelled out and I completely agree…now. During the act, I really wasn’t aware of what I was doing. Yes, I knew that I was downing caffeine to stay awake, but the implications of the act did not come to mind. All I was focused on was getting my mind to be alert enough to finish the assignments.  Fast forward to the end of the day, and I felt like my heart was going to explode. I was shivering but was not cold. I felt ill, but I was not nauseous. As someone who hasn’t gone to the doctors in more years than I’d like to admit, I was ready to go to the hospital. BUT I DIDN’T. Why? Because I didn’t want to admit my actions were wrong and that I needed help.

Looking back, do I wish I would’ve gotten help? Yes. Will I do so in the future? I sincerely hope so. In our competitive society, it is important to remind ourselves that we need others to depend on. For those who love us, no issue is too small. We were made to flourish together and to do so we have to be transparent with one another.

My advice to all my fellow insomniacs out there is to find someone that you feel you comfortable talking to and make it a goal to telling them about the small stuff from day to day. This way, when something bigger happens, it will be your natural instinct to reach out to them.

My advice to all the loved ones of insomniacs is not to yell at them for their actions. Once you show judgment, it makes it more likely that they will hold out from getting help just so they don’t have to admit they were wrong.