Living with Stress - Sleep

Sleep is the body's key mechanism for combating fatigue. Like exercise, sleep helps to reduce or eliminate tension. But healthy, sound sleep may elude persons suffering from prolonged stress. In a state of moderate fatigue resulting from exercise, by contrast, the body normally finds sleep a welcome refreshment.

The consensus among physicians today is that vitamins and tranquilizers are almost never the right answers to severe fatigue, nor are alcohol and sleeping pills. Caffeine can be counterproductive to the point where the body cannot really relax. Too much caffeine may even cause anxiety symptoms and an increase in stress and tension.

Curiously, most persons require less—not more—sleep once they have begun an exercise program. The reasons may be psychological or physical or both; physicians are not certain. Those who find it difficult to fall asleep while pursuing an exercise program should examine their schedules. Strenuous exercises shortly before bedtime can interfere with sleep more than help it.

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