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Does Stress Make You Tired? & How to Reverse its Energy Zapping Powers

Does Stress Make You Tired - Stressed Woman

If stress is known to cause excessive tiredness, then what can you do about it….?


In a word… Yes!

Stress is one of the most common causes for feeling tired and it makes a vicious circle

The more stressed you are, the more tired you become and the more tired you are the more stressed you become…

But you can break this vicious circle

Just as you can take a horse to water but you can’t make it drink, so you can take yourself to bed but you can’t make yourself sleep!

But you can make yourself relax – and that is almost as good as sleep; once relaxed, your body is likely to fall asleep all by itself.

But What is “Stress” ?

The department of Health in UK defines stress as “the adverse reaction people have to excessive demands placed upon them” and I would add “and being unable to escape.”

When we are stressed a flood of hormones, cortisol, adrenaline and epinephrine course round our bodies. Our heart rate and breathing increase, our muscles are primed for action and sugar and fats are transformed into energy.

This is great for escaping or fighting…

But not so good in our normal, busy lives. No wonder you feel exhausted when stressed

But it’s the way we cope that determines how we feel. Some people seem to thrive on stresses that would burn out others. And there are plenty of things you can do to relieve stress, once you know how.

What Makes Stress Worse – (What Not to Do)

Just as there are remedies to help alleviate stress, there are things that we do that encourage stress.

Caffeine Before Bed Time

Caffeine is a stimulant. When you want to stay wake – a cup of coffee helps – but if you need to sleep it’s not. Caffeine is also in energy drinks, tea, cola, chocolate and some medications. [1]

Recent research found that drinking coffee even 6 hours before bedtime had a disruptive effect on sleep, even when the person has not noticed this. [2]


Although alcohol may help you get to sleep quicker – the later part of the night is more disrupted. Most people have six to seven cycles of rapid eye movement sleep (REM), but drinkers usually have only one or two.

When you drink too much before sleep, you miss out on the restorative effects of REM sleep and you wake next day feeling exhausted, tired and irritable (quite apart from any hangover you may have earned).

Relying on alcohol to get you to sleep can lead to addiction. [3]

Does Stress Make You Feel Tired - Stressed Woman Working

Late Night Computer Games or Work

Electronic devices like computers and iPads use bright, predominately blue, light, which is disruptive for sleep. This blue light is the same light as daytime light, so our brains think we should be awake.

Research suggests that we should not look at screens for at least an hour before bed.

For more details see the article about melatonin and the effects of light on sleep.

Late Night Heavy Meals

A considerable amount of research has been applied to the eating behaviors before bedtime. Although eating a large meal can disrupt your sleep, by the discomfort of lying down with a large meal inside you, it seems that a small, nutrient rich meal can be beneficial. So, comfort eating is out – but healthy snacks are in.[4]

Being Over Active in the Evening

If you are stressed, the last thing you need is a long evening out or frantic entertaining in. A relaxed bedtime routine is essential, especially if you are stressed all the rest of your day

Does Stress Make You Tired - Woman Tired At Work

Working All Hours

Research is proving that fewer hours work mean more gets done and the work force is happier. (Why bosses can’t seem to take that in is a mystery) Don’t compound the problem by bringing work home or not switching off your computer or your “work” brain. Your brain needs a rest.

Experiments in reducing hours of work in Sweden and Toyota in Gothenburg have proved successful and popular. [5]


It’s no good lying in bed unable to sleep and thinking if all the worst things that could happen! “I know I’ll flunk my presentation if I don’t get some sleep and then I’ll lose my job and be out on welfare… and my family will be sleeping on the streets and the kids put in care…” Not helpful!

How to Ease Stress – (What to Do)


Does Stress Make You Feel Tired - Picture of Relaxation

When we think of relaxation, it's common to think hammocks and beach vacations. However, relaxing is simply allowing oneself to be free of tension and anxiety.

Below are some proven techniques to help you relax, however they do require some practice


Meditation influences sleep and improves the quality of sleep. It also enhances the action of melatonin, which also improves sleep. [6] And meditation is very versatile. Once you have practiced a little you can use it in any safe place where you can be undisturbed for as little as a quarter of an hour.

Mindfulness meditation can create a shift in your bodies that is the opposite of the stress response. This relaxation response can help with stress related problems including the difficulties stressed people often have in getting to sleep and hence feeling exhausted.

To do this you have to focus on your breathing, bring your mind to the present, ignoring thoughts about the past or the future.

Self- Hypnosis

Self- hypnosis is another very powerful way to relax. Done properly one can come round afterwards feeling reinvigorated, the fatigue forgotten. Self- hypnosis is a deep form of meditation, which one can do by oneself, or with the aid of a sound track. It is not the same as sleep and the sound track should have an ending to bring your mind back to the present.

Candle gazing

This is one way to enjoy mindfulness. Light a candle and gaze at the flame. Do not take your eyes off the flame and every time a stray thought comes into your mind, just let it float away like a bubble in the air.

Being Organized

Stress can build up when we aren’t organized. Everything feels like it’s too much etc. If this sounds like you, it will help to file the things you need to do in your life. Studies show that women who leads a life filled with clutter has raised levels of stress hormones, so decluttering can rapidly decrease stress levels. [11]

Trying to remember everything is doomed to failure, fatigue and forgetting!

There are plenty of computer programs or techniques to help with being organized

Does Stress Make You Feel Tired - Laying Down Listening to Music


Music has a powerful effect on our minds. Upbeat music makes us feel lively and lower music relaxes us. Music is a great tool for relieving the symptoms of stress. It is also relatively cheap and easy to access.

Stanford university researchers found that “listening to music seems to be able to change brain functioning to the same extent as medication.”

Some of the quickest mental changes can be invoked by music. It slows the heart rate and lowers blood pressure and reduces the levels of the stress hormones. [6][7]

This is why it is so widely used in movies, plays and other theater. It helps prime the audience's emotions. Should they be feeling happy, sad, tense or alert?

Which Music is Best for Relaxation?

While everyone's taste in music is a little different, for relaxation drums and flutes are often found effective along with stringed instruments. Sounds of nature like thunder or river water are also beneficial.

Research (done mostly by companies selling specialty music) suggest that music can directly alter your brain waves or synchronize with them to produce great efficacy for studying or measure their effects on our daily lives]

Other Arts

Painting and sculpture both entrance us and relax us as we lose ourselves in the world evoked by the artist, and use our imaginations to enhance the experience.

Direct Physical Methods to Relieve Stress

Breathing exercise and muscle relaxation are both successful methods to relieve stress. They can be done almost anywhere, even covertly in company and as a sleep aid in bed.

Breathing exercises demand that you pay attention to your breathing and usually involve counting and breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. It is not essential to make a lot of noise if you are with people.

Square Breathing

This is just one method and goes like this:

Breath in to the slow count of 4, hold for 4, breath out for 4 rest for 4.

Very simple, yet 3 or 4 breaths like this, with slow counting, can relax you. It also gets a good supply of oxygen to the brain and you tend to feel less fatigued afterwards.

Muscle Relaxation

This means a conscious relaxation of your muscles in groups – often starting from the toes and working your way up the body. Some people find that clenching the muscle first helps to relax it afterwards.

A full muscle relaxation will take 20-40 minutes. But even dropping your shoulders (a lot of tension is carried here) can help you feel better immediately, especially if you then smile.

Smiling and Laughing

Some of the best tension relievers are in comedy and jokes. Black humor in difficult situations helps as does watching a comedy after a stressful day.

NOTE: President’s Obamas spoof video on what to do after leaving the White house. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-36181335


Yoga combines muscular activity and an awareness of one’s breathing, one’s energy and one’s self. Results from studies find that it has many beneficial effects, including aiding sleep and restoring energy levels. [9]

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

CBT really means understanding why you are behaving or feeling in such a way, and therefore gives you the ability to tackle the root causes. Skilled therapists and usually many sessions are required, but it can be a valuable experience for stressed out people.

CBT is useful for many conditions including chronic fatigue syndrome, which is a continuous feeling of exhaustion, of unknown causes, but which often follows a viral infection. [12]

Sleep Aids and Chemical Methods

If all else fails you can use certain sleep aids to help you get a good night’s sleep. These are only advised as a short-term remedy, but they can help you get back into the rhythm of natural sleep. Here is our list of the most common sleep aid ingredients


So – does stress make you tired? Only if you let it. You need to allow yourself to take the necessary time to follow one or two techniques properly. The results will be a general improvement in how you feel, how you work and how you live. Investing in a little time now, just for yourself, will bring back your natural vitality.

Really, the advice boils down to caring for yourself, giving yourself the time and respect you deserve, doing the things you enjoy doing and living a well- balanced, healthy life.

So – which technique will you use first?

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