Stress and the middle aged woman…
During the past week I have woken each night soaked in sweat. It’s not hot in our apartment. We have a ceiling fan circulating. My diet is under control. Yet, each night, usually several times a night, I wake up hot. Hot flashes you say, perhaps nodding with understanding.
Yes, and no.
You see, this week I’ve moved states, crammed a three-bedroom house into a one bedroom apartment, left my community behind and started the very first baby steps to creating a community here in Flagstaff, Arizona. While the past few months selling a house and packing up have been stressful, nothing really compares to the anxiety I’ve been feeling this week. I’ve had panic attacks and complete emotional breakdowns.
To sum it up succinctly, I am a stressed-out wreck.
Generally speaking, I normally sleep well.
Not this week.
So in my usual manner, I started to dig around (and remember my physiology!). I wanted to know WHY specifically, stress was impacting my sleep and what I could do about it.
Are You Familiar with the HPA Axis?
The HPA Axis is the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) Axis. It’s your body’s stress system, and it controls cortisol levels. It’s responsible in part for regulating many of the hormones, nervous system activity and energy expenditure. It also regulates your immune and digestive systems.
For example, did you know that cortisol impacts the release of progesterone? Ha! I didn’t either. During my digging I found that increased stress can impact your release of progesterone and thus have an impact on your sleep – aka hot flashes!
FYI – Cortisol also affects:
- Bone growth
- Blood pressure
- Immune system function
- Metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, and protein
- Nervous system function
- Wake/ Sleep cycles
So it’s no wonder that my increased stress has been completely messing up my sleep and my ability to work out at the same level I’m used to. My stress level is way out of control.
So what to do…
I’m aware that my stress level is under my control. I am the only person that controls how I react to situations. So while I am addressing the situations, I’m also working on having a better response. I’m…
- Meditating daily
- Focusing on gratitude
- Being more gentle with myself
- Taking naps
- Not drinking alcohol and reducing caffeine intake (just a bit :D)
- Listening to soothing music in the evening
And I started taking Primal Blueprint Adaptogenic Calm.
In addition to having magnesium (which can help with sleep) it contains Phosphatidyl Serine (PS). “PS exists naturally in the body and has been shown to blunt cortisol, the body’s stress response hormone. It has also been shown in numerous studies to help improve mood and increase memory, concentration and cognition. Experts consider PS the ‘gold standard’ in stress nutrients, helping muscles bounce back, nerves handle a hectic lifestyle, stress hormones stay in balance and concentration improve to laser-beam focus.”
If you’re stressed, there are many steps you can take to better manage it. Being human is hard and sometimes the choices we make, even though they’re the right choices, are still extremely difficult.
I miss my friends. I’m homesick and sometimes overwhelmed by an uncertain future. But I also know that I’m in control and nothing is permanent. Embrace gratitude, support your body and mind, and trust yourself to get through the stress. And if you need any help, reach out and let me know how I can help!