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Stress Hormones & Sleep


While keeping your teeth healthy and your oral health in top shape are certainly incredibly important to leading an overall healthy life, there is perhaps one thing that is even more vital: sleep. When our bodies get the amount of sleep that we need, our lives tend to run smoothly, and we can handle any issues that do pop up with relative ease. Should we begin to get less sleep than what we need, however, we can quickly find ourselves overstressed and unable to function. The relationship between stress hormones and sleep is a relatively straightforward one to think about – let’s take a look!

Stress Hormones

Did you know that there are hormones in our bodies that trigger the sensation of stress? While it is true that much stress is triggered by outside sources which then raise the hormone level – cortisol, in this instance – to change our attitude and emotions, sometimes that hormone just seems to be a bit out of whack. That means that it remains elevated for most of the day, even when you are trying to relax or rest. There are a few different reasons for this, including chronic stress and a lack of sleep. Chronic stress, otherwise known as stress that persists, is an issue that affects many individuals – and the longer they remain stressed, the more stressed they become. Does that sound unfair? Cortisol’s relationship with sleep is equally so.

Cortisol and Sleep

As mentioned above, sleep is vitally important for everyone. Regardless of your age, gender, or nationality, you need sleep to function well. More specifically, you need plenty of deep sleep. During deep sleep, our bodies and minds are “healed” from the rigors of the preceding day, and begin to rest up for the next day. When we are prevented from getting a deep sleep that we need, we become less and less functional during the day as the sleep deficit wears on.

Too little sleep can cause an increase of stress during the day. This is because your energy levels and ability to think clearly about things tend to go down as your sleep deficit increases. When this happens, you might find yourself more stressed out about things than normal. Unfortunately, too much stress can also make it difficult to sleep. In fact, if you are a regularly stressed out person, then you might find that you rarely have a good night’s rest.

So, which is it? Does stress cause sleeping problems, or do sleeping problems trigger stress? The answer is that both options are true. Once you get started on the sleep versus stress cycle, you will likely find it incredibly difficult to get off. This is because you will find yourself needing to lower your stress levels, the problem is, the lack of sleep makes it more difficult to lower those levels. At the same time, you might be unable to catch up on sleep because you are so stressed. As you can see, the issue is not an easy one to solve.

At Pickens Family Dentistry, we work hard so that our patients don’t have to stress about their oral health! Contact us today at (360) 254-6411.
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Dr. Drue Pickens
Pickens Family Dentistry


7508 NE Vancouver Mall Dr.
Vancouver, WA 98662

Phone: (360) 254-6411
Fax: (360) 944-5952

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