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The science of stress, and how it鈥檚 impacting your deep sleep

The science of stress, and how it鈥檚 impacting your deep sleep

It doesn鈥檛 take a neuroscientist to understand that it鈥檚 hard to get a solid night鈥檚 sleep right now. On my journey to become a better sleeper myself and through my work as a board-certified psychiatrist with hundreds of patients with sleep issues related to trauma, I鈥檝e found that understanding the way stress impacts our bodies and sleep can be empowering to rethink the frustrating relationship many of us have with sleep.

When we鈥檙e sleeping, we鈥檙e entering a really deep recovery state where our awareness of our physical surroundings is significantly reduced. We鈥檙e least aware of our environment around us and most vulnerable to threat during sleep. This requires our rest-and-digest, or parasympathetic activity to increase, and our fight-or-flight, or sympathetic activity, to drastically decrease, which is signaled by things around us that help us feel safe.聽聽

Today, our modern-day stresses are often not truly a threat to our ability to survive through the night, despite the fact that our bodies perceive an overwhelming inbox the same way as the growling animal outside our den. Our evolutionary response to threats hasn鈥檛 adapted. We鈥檙e internalizing all threats similarly and our reaction is the same 鈥 to stay alert and prepared. Sleep makes us physically vulnerable to threats. We鈥檙e programmed to respond this way, so remember it鈥檚 not anyone鈥檚 fault. With all the chaos going on in the world around us, it鈥檚 objectively a tough time to sleep well. That said, this means that it is even more important that we have tools available to us to help us maximize our recovery whenever we can.

The importance of rebalancing our nervous system is a driver that originally led me to develop the Apollo Neuro technology. The Apollo wearable brings the body back into balance by sending safety signals to our brains through our sense of touch, just like when a loved one giving us a hug on a bad day. It sends positive signals to our brain to remind us that we鈥檙e safe enough to drift into sleep (among other things like deep focus, calm, and making us present at the moment). It allows us to take control of our decisions from a standpoint of safety and strength, rather than fear.

But I promise it鈥檚 not hopeless. Although many of the stressors today are indeed out of our control, the way we react to the stressisin our control. And there are some low-effort ways to regain control and rebalance our nervous system, ultimately logging a much deeper night of sleep. We have the ability to signal this mind-body connection by practicing techniques that allow us to restore a sense of safety to the nervous system 鈥 like breath work, meditation, gentle yoga, or activating our touch sensors. All of these practices activate our parasympathetic nervous system saying 鈥淗ey body, we鈥檙e safe.鈥

Sleep is the single most important thing that we can do to recover from stress. When we get our 6-8 hours of sleep (whatever our sweet spot for a restful sleep is) on a regular basis, we notice that we feel better during the day, get sick less often, have more energy, and are in a better mood. Here are a few helpful tips that I follow strictly to ensure I鈥檓 sleeping well:

  • I move every day. A solid sleep starts the moment I wake up. Moving for 30 mins a day lowers my stress levels, improves my focus, boosts my mood, and helps me sleep.
  • Avoiding uppers and downers throughout the day is a big one. Most of us start the day with caffeine and end the day with booze, and it doesn鈥檛 always stop there. Alcohol increases inflammation and increases cortisol production which disrupts sleep. I鈥檝e found that wine within two hours of bed knocks my HRV down at least 20 points on average (I use Oura Ring to track).
  • I avoid drinking liquids (except a bit of water) within an hour of bed.聽
  • I sleep in a cool room. This is big for me.
  • Limiting screen time and anything overly stimulating in the evening helps me unwind.聽
  • A consistent bedtime improves my HRV. Our bodies love routine.
  • Our team at Apollo Neurohighlighted their favorite sleep apps and toolsthat work tenfold when paired with Apollo.

I consistently sleep better with my Apollo wearable. It鈥檚 really catalyzed a change in my health 鈥 one where I prioritized recovery as much as I did productivity, and what I realized is that I worked smarter, was more efficient, and that I was happier. Here鈥檚 how I use the Apollo wearable at night:

  • I unwind from the day using Unwind while I move around getting ready for bed. I like it at 35% intensity for 30 minutes. When I鈥檝e had an especially busy day (which is most days), I use breath work in conjunction with Unwind Vibe.聽聽
  • Once I get in bed, I turn on聽Fall Asleep at 40% intensity for 30 or 60 minutes. If I ever wake up in the middle of the night, I just press down both buttons on Apollo once at the same time to get back to sleep fast.聽

This year, it鈥檚 so important to prioritize our mental health, and finding the key to unlocking deep sleep is an incredible way to boost your well-being. What are the fool-proof sleep tricks that have allowed you to become a better sleeper?