The 4 differences between stress and insomnia: the keys to distinguishing them

Almost all people have experienced or will experience an episode of stress or insomnia in their lifetime.

However, while these two conditions have some points in common and can even occur together, the reality is that they have characteristics that make them very different. We will review all these qualities to better understand the two concepts, through a summary of the differences between insomnia and stress.

    What are the differences between stress and insomnia?

    To be able to know the differences between stress and insomnia, the first thing to do is to define each of these elements.

    Stress is a physiological response to a threatening situation, which may be timely or sustainable over timeThis would therefore change from an adaptive response, in the first case, to a pathology, in the second, which can have consequences on the physical and mental health of the person suffering from continuous stress.

    In fact, there is a cataloging between different types of stress in which the origin of it is distinguished and therefore the usefulness of the physiological reaction of the organism. In the first case, we would speak of positive stress, or eustress, in which our body is preparing to face a situation that requires extra effort. The other typology would be negative stress or distraction. In this case, the physiological activation exceeds our equilibrium levels, and this is when the negative symptoms appear.

    To better distinguish the differences between stress and insomnia, we will now define the second element. This is a sleep disorder that can manifest itself in various waysEither as a difficulty falling asleep at the beginning of the night, having a light sleep which makes us wake up several times, or waking up very early and not being able to go back to sleep. As with stress, insomnia can appear as an isolated episode, for different reasons, or manifest itself in acute or even chronic phases, the longer it lasts.

    While this may seem like a minor issue, insomnia can have a very serious impact on the suffererIf the situation is not corrected in time, the failure to have restful sleep over a continuous period can cause sequelae organically, psychologically and in all areas of the subject’s life. To avoid reaching this situation, there are different therapies with a good degree of effectiveness, although logically the best solution will be to get to the root of the problem and stop it.

      Stress as a cause of insomnia

      One of the differences between stress and insomnia is that often one can precede the other. The most common way that this happens is that it is an ongoing stressful situation which also ends up leading to disturbed sleep and hence to the dreaded insomnia. And this is it stress can present a very broad symptomatology, mainly with indicators of anxietyBut also depression, a decrease in the ability to concentrate and difficulty in reconciling restful sleep.

      In this case, it would be important to take measures to alleviate the effects of insomnia and resolve it as quickly as possible, since without adequate rest it will be difficult to implement the rest of the applied treatments. But, since stress is the cause of sleep disturbances, it makes sense to assume that the best way to put an end to this remission is to act precisely in the face of the situation that creates this stress maintained over time, So that once the threat is gone, physiological activation levels are reduced.

      Of course, this is not always easy and unfortunately we are often faced with stressful situations in everyday life, at work, in our family relationships which to some extent are beyond our control. The key to being able to cope with it would be the attitude we are faced with, and often the right psychological treatment can provide us with the tools we need to be able to deal with life situations without them being so stressful.

      And it is that many situations are not stressful in themselves, but depend on the situation of each person and their personal characteristics, their learning history, etc. Therefore, if we learn to deal with a situation that initially threatens us, but which with the right training we are able to manage without undergoing overwhelming physiological activationIt is assumed that we will facilitate the disappearance of all symptoms, and with it, insomnia.

      Insomnia as a cause of stress

      Following the discovery line of the differences between stress and insomnia, we also find another situation, less common, but also possible. And it is that sometimes insomnia may be the first factor to appear and this causes a situation in the patient that facilitates the emergence of stressWe would therefore speak of a reverse situation of the previous case, and therefore the way to stop it would also be different.

      In this case, having trouble sleeping continuously could result in, among other things, a high level of anxiety and frustration, as the lack of rest would make it difficult for us to cope with situations that, to other times, would not involve the exhaustion of the resources that our body would need to manage different events. this could end up causing the dreaded stress to appear, and therefore be a consequence of insomnia, not a cause.

      But often the events are not so linear, but vicious circles are established in which an imbalance in the life of the person generates two disorders, either at the same time or because one triggers the other and at the same time. they reverberate. It sounds complicated, but it’s actually a very common thing. A person who begins to live in high demand situations might start to suffer from stress, which could trigger sleep problems., Onset of insomnia.

      But in turn, this insomnia would deprive him of resources for stress management which was already causing him many difficulties, which would worsen this physiological activation, and therefore the symptoms, in particular insomnia. Obviously, this is a situation that cannot last over time, as the physical and mental wear and tear they place on the subject is enormous, constant and increasing. He will therefore need both medical and psychological help to regain stability.

      Several of the differences between stress and insomnia then became clear, and that is the appearance pattern between the twoOne of the pathologies can precede the other, appear separately or appear at the same time and lead one to worsen the situation of the other, this situation being the most delicate of all possible and one that requires earlier attention and more efficient. to end as quickly as possible the spiral of feedback into which it has entered.

      The use of cannabinoids to treat insomnia and stress

      With reference to the more severe cases of stress associated with insomnia, studies have been conducted in this regard to assess the usefulness of the use of cannabinoids in reducing all of these symptoms.

      More specifically, we will focus on the 2011 study by Prosper et al, conducted in Mexico. On this occasion, we worked with laboratory rats, which suffered a state of chronic stress by a chemical process. This is why they were injected with a dose of dexamethasone while they were pregnant.

      In this way, the puppies were born with a particular condition, and that is that when faced with a stressful stimulus, they acted disproportionately, so one could say that they had acquired an attitude of avoidance in the face of risk. Then began a process that reached the state of chronic stress and insomnia that they were looking for to perform the experience, then endocannabinoids were applied to observe the effects on pathologies.

      What was observed was a marked decrease in the symptomatology that they had previously generated, so that the authors conclude that this element played a key role in improving stress and insomnia due to emotional causes (which is caused by stress), so they invite further research to find another method, in this case pharmacological, to help people suffering from these problems in the sound day after day.

      Bibliographical references:

      • River, I and (2006). Stress and sleep. Mexican Journal of Neuroscience.
      • Escobar-Córdoba, F., Foliño, J.Ó., Eslava-Schmalbach, J. (2008). Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and sleep disturbances in a group of adult women in Bogota. Medical universities.
      • Prosper, G., Méndez, M., Ruiz, AI, Alvarado, I., Rosenthal, L. (2011). Insomnia, stress and cannabinoids. Mexico. Mental Health.
      • Valdés, M., De Flores, T. (1985). Psychobiology of stress. Barcelona: Martínez Roca.

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