Sleep Patterns: Returning to Normal After Stress Overload
After reaching stress overload I had great sleeping difficulties. There has been much improvement but there is still some way to go.
If I get to calm my nervous system completely will this mean my sleep patterns will return back to normal again?
Since your sleep pattern was normal before you experienced stress overload, you will probably find that your sleep will indeed return to normal when your nervous system is returned to a calm state (this is assuming that you have seen a physician about your sleep difficulties, and have ruled out other causes).
The book "The Relaxation Response," by Herbert Benson, describes studies that have examined the effects of relaxation in the short term and over the long term. The relaxation response is the opposite of the stress response. Studies show that practicing relaxation regularly can reverse the effects of the stress response.
In other words, by using relaxation routinely, you can reverse the effects of stress overload. Probably you will find that your sleep will return to normal as well.
In terms of sleep, there are two important ways to use relaxation. One is to practice the relaxation response. This occurs when you are awake, so it is necessary to remain awake while practicing relaxation exercises in order to experience the relaxation response.
The second way to use relaxation is for the purpose of falling asleep. The only thing you need to do differently for these two purposes is to select a position that either keeps you awake (to practice the relaxation response) or helps you fall asleep (to use relaxation to sleep).
By using relaxation in both of these ways, it is possible to improve sleep and otherwise counteract the negative effects of stress.