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As we discussed in last week’s article, poor sleep has a negative impact on our immune system as it affects the capacity of immune cells to operate properly. One of the reasons for lack of good and restorative sleep is stress.
Stress is a natural body response to a real or perceived real threat, called stressor. Stressors can be physical (i.e.: illness, poor diet, accident), mental (i.e.: relationship difficulties, work) or emotional (such as grief, anxiety). Stress is the body’s own alarm system designed for its survival. When we perceive an event as dangerous the Sympathetic Nervous System activates the flight or fight response and stress hormones will be released indicating to the body that it needs to mobilise its energy to face what is perceived as a danger.
Adrenaline & Cortisol
Adrenaline and cortisol are the main stress hormones. When they are released, functions necessary to face the stressor will be prioritized while others will be “slowed-down”. For example, the cardiovascular system will pump more blood to the muscles preparing the body to run away, while other functions will be considered as “secondary”, such as the digestive, reproductive or immune systems, and will then be on “stand-by”.
Once the threat is gone, the body tries to return to homeostasis, it’s the original state of balance. Unfortunately, when the body is constantly exposed to stressors, it becomes impossible for it to return to this original state and it remains on constant high-alert. As chronic stress establishes, the body finds it more and more difficult to cope leading to a burn-out.
Stress response is necessary to create alertness and indicate that something external is happening that needs our attention. Unfortunately, the body doesn’t know how to make the difference between a stress that is life threatening and one that is not.
It is impossible to remove stress from one’s life, however as the continuous release of stress hormones impairs our capacity to function properly, lowering immunity and putting us more at risk to fall sick, it is very important to find support systems to help deal with our stress.
Some studies have highlighted the potential of melatonin as an antidepressant to help with stress-related psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety and restlessness, by helping to resynchronize the circadian rhythm.
Here is an article that offers some tips on how to deal with stress.
Author Valérie Marin
– Health and Nutrition Coach –
Valerie is a certified health and nutrition coach. She helps and motivates her clients to make healthy lifestyle choices and engage sustainable changes that make them feel their best. Valerie is certified from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, with a speciality in hormone and gut health.
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1- Detanico BC 1 Piato AL , Freitas JJ , Lhullier FL , Hidalgo MP , Caumo W , Elisabetsky E .Antidepressant-like effects of melatonin in the mouse chronic mild stress model. Eur J Pharmacol 2009 1 avril; 607 (1-3): 121-5. doi: 10.1016 / j.ejphar.2009.02.037. Epub 2009 le 26 février.