Stress affects what “happens” in our sleep. And vice versa –

by time news

There is a direct line between the events of the day and the quality of sleep at night. When exposed to stressful events, the following night’s sleep may be of poorer quality. Some people, on the other hand, are able to seek refuge on a restful night’s sleep in response to a difficult day. In general, however, stress is the enemy of sleep, and apart from difficulties falling asleep and frequent awakenings, it can alter both the physiological structure of sleep and the content of dreams. The latter can bring back situations that recall the stress faced in the previous hours and are easily colored with negative emotions, until they take on the appearance of a real nightmare.

Individual response

There is a link between cortical and emotional activation that occurred during the day and sleep disturbances say Marie Vandekerckhove and Raymond Cluydts, Belgian psychologists, authors of an article published in the journal Sleep Medicine Reviews. The individual response e the effort to cope with the stress associated with the events of the day interfere with the ability to interrupt stimuli and dampen the brain activity of wakefulness, which makes it difficult to initiate the normal process of falling asleep. The time waiting for sleep to arrive is lengthened, which then will in any case have abnormalities especially in the REM phase. For example, watching movies with unpleasant content in the evening can affect emotional experiences in the early REM sleep stages.

REM sleep deprivation

The relationship between sleep, dreams and stress is then two-way: a night of constant awakening, perhaps punctuated by episodes of bad dreams or nightmares, can have a negative effect on the following day, marked by malaise and bad mood, by a feeling of stress. An effect that could be largely due to the poor quality of REM sleep. This type of sleep seems to be able to modulate the mood conditions of the following day and also to facilitate the integration of affective life events into long-term memory. Therefore, sleep deprivation, and in particular REM sleep, has an impact on the ways in which we process and dampen our daily experiences, explain the authors.

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Depressive state

Even a depressed state can predispose to an increase in nightmare episodes. A systematic review published recently by French researchers on the Journal of Clinical Medicine highlights that people with major depression tend to have twice as many nightmares compared to non-depressed people, about 45 nightmares per year against 18 on average. The deeper the depression, the greater the loss of pleasure in daily activities, the more frequent the nightmare episodes. In particular, nightmares seem to rage especially in those who have that particular form of insomnia called terminal, that is, which occurs at the end of the night, therefore in those who tend to wake up very early at the first light of dawn and then cannot fall asleep anymore. .

June 22, 2021 (change June 22, 2021 | 19:51)


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