Why Stressed Women Don’t Need More Sleep

Why Stressed Women Don’t Need More Sleep

There seem to be a lot of stressed women around these days. They’d surely all love to get more sleep! When I look back on my life, I’ve had quite a few periods of high-stress. At one time, a lot of my stress was work-related, combined with the many demands of being a mum.

Later on, my stress levels got so high that they undermined my immune system. Not surprisingly I got glandular fever, which left me with chronic fatigue. I attribute those conditions to self-imposed stress from writing my Better Birth book whilst finishing my PhD, at the same time as my kids were still quite young! Luckily I recovered completely with the help of a Chinese Medicine practitioner.

STRESS: ‘the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them’ (UK Health Safety Executive).

Then later again, over several years, I had another type of  stress. I had unrealistic pressures from working as a researcher in a modern university. And concurrently a surprising number of my close family and friends were going through cancer or recovering from serious accidents or injuries. And boy did I feel tired a lot! But you don’t have to be in poor health to feel that your work stress or life stress are really draining your energy.Tired 24/7Tired 24/7

“I just need to sleep!”Tired 24/7

In those most stressful periods, I would often gift myself an afternoon snooze. I know that overwhelming feeling where you almost want to scream to everyone “I just need to sleep!”. You feel like you just can’t do one extra thing! Or you’re at the end of your caring tether and simply don’t have even one gram of energy to care for anyone else any more. But snoozing almost became an embarrassment. I felt like I shouldn’t need breaks, I should be able to cope. And sleeping didn’t always give me any more energy anyway.

I thought to get more energy I needed more sleep, but in fact to get more energy I needed to reduce my stress!

From my EFT Tapping training, I now know what was going on. My nervous system was continually working in flight-fight mode in response to highly stressful situations, or ongoing lower-grade stress, and that was draining my energy big-time. Many experts will tell you that being in that mode is only meant to happen for a few seconds. It’s meant to come in only on those rare occasions when you face a serious threat to your life or to those around you. Your physiology automatically kicks in to help you respond for survival.

It’s not safe to relax

In modern life, we face so much pressure and often unrealistic demands that it can feel as if we’re constantly under threat and we rarely feel safe enough to relax. So our nervous system is in flight-fight mode much of the day, if not the whole time, releasing the sensations that we know as stress (The Trauma Foundation 2021).

And your stress hormones can spillover to when you’re trying to sleep. It’s one common reason why you might be struggling to switch off your busy-brain at night! It’s not unreasonable that if the demands on you are really high and you feel little control over them, you probably don’t want to take a regular break. Or with work you might feel you can’t take annual leave as you fear returning to drown in your inbox and even more demands! So when do your nervous system and mind get down-time to recuperate and re-energise?

The energy drain of stress

My clients often come overwhelmed with stress, on the edge of burnout, or with high emotions. I tell them that every demand that’s above the average woman’s coping level is like opening another app on your mobile phone. It’s easy to soon have a good number of apps open behind the main screen without realising it. Then you wonder why your phone battery has depleted so quickly. This may manifest as “monkey-mind” when you try to sleep. Or you may not be aware of what’s keeping you awake, you just have that restless feeling.

And often it isn’t that you aren’t coping. You’re probably a highly capable woman with excellent time management skills. What you’re facing would overwhelm anyone. In fact, others might well have folded well before you! It’s just too easy to soldier on trying to cope, or desperately trying to get to the end of your never-ending To-Do List. Until your energy is totally drained or you fear for your health.

More effective down-time

While some extra sleep or better sleep might benefit you, the quest for better sleep can become another stress in itself. And of course, sleeping often isn’t possible during work hours or a busy day at home.To help your whole system instead, you could try some simple Self-Care Tapping.

Even if tapping on your body with your fingertips might sound a bit far-fetched, millions of women attest to the fact – and research now supports them – that it does really take the edge off your tension or worries (Dawson Church PhD 2011). It can also be incorporated during everyday activities (and if you don’t want others to see, tap discreetly on your hand in your lap or behind your back!). 

Don’t worry if you haven’t had a private tapping session or workshop yet, you can check out the free videos at the link below. And if you are overwhelmed by stress, or prior insecurities or past traumas are being triggered, things usually improve much more quickly with an accredited practitioner who uses Clinical EFT Tapping.

Stressed Woman

Better sleep after tapping

Two of my clients are good examples of how clearing some stress in a tapping session can actually improve your sleep unexpectedly. Firstly, Kim – a senior insurance specialist – had been extremely stressed because of all the demands at work, feeling as if she were being expected to work almost a 200% load. Her sleep was very unsettled. We didn’t tap about the sleep, but to reduce the intensity of her worries. When I asked how she felt a few days later, she said: 

I’m feeling quite good. Sleep has been great. I’ve woken up feeling like I’ve slept! I also tapped three times yesterday and it did help with my stress levels.

With Stacy – a self-employed businesswoman – we tapped about her frustration with a stressful ongoing family situation. She emailed the next day to say that the session helped her achieve emotional release and clarity, and surprisingly her sleep had also benefited:

I got to discover the shock I have experienced and the impact it has had on me, and then get the opportunity to release some of that pent up emotion. I slept like a baby last night! I would like another session soon.

If you are at the stage of experiencing frequent insomnia – with regularly poor sleep – that may reflect a very high stressload, or unresolved negative emotions from past experiences, even unresolved traumas. A tapping practitioner can also help you reduce and clear those.

Tapping help for stressed women

Luckily for me, I came across EFT Tapping to help with my stress. It changed my life. I first heard about it around 10 years ago (although it’s been around for 25 years!). With the help of an experienced practitioner, Tapping allowed me to significantly reduce my stress levels. Even my kids noticed the improvement. But I see my high-stress experience as a beneficial lesson, because it also led to me setting up this Tapping Into Serenity business when I realised there were so many other women struggling with work-stress and life-stress who also wanted to feel more in control and happier!

Even these days when I feel tired because there’s a lot going on, such as when my mum’s health deteriorated suddenly in June, I may still be inclined to think I’d like a nap, but now I’m so used to tapping instead. It processes my negative thoughts and feelings, and calms my mind, body and nervous system without me needing willpower. My whole system then bounces back.

So what next?

Every year there are more and more research studies and meta-analyses being published showing how EFT Tapping works to calm your mind and body and re-regulate your nervous system. Tapping also releases the associated negative thoughts and feelings you’re having – and it works on many different issues precisely because many of them have stress as a common factor. 

To get notice of Lareen’s future blog articles, you can sign up to her mailing list in the box on this page. Or book a free Clarity Call to discuss how Lareen can help you with your issue. If you’d like to try some tapping with Lareen, check out her short free Youtube videos. Or visit this page if you’re interested in more about the research evidence about EFT Tapping.

Dr Lareen Newman PhD helps busy and high-achieving women who are struggling with Work-Stress or Life-Stress to find clarity and emotional freedom. This enables them to open up space to feel more joy, peace and love. Lareen can work with you online in private sessions wherever you are in the world via Zoom, or locally at her private studio in Adelaide, Australia. Lareen left the high-pressure university world in early 2020 to expand her business. She now lives her passion of seeing more women every week transformed through reducing and clearing their emotional stress and subconscious blocks to feeling calmer and happier in work and life!

REFERENCES:

Dawson Church (2011). How EFT Tapping Releases Stress in your Mind and Body

Health Safety Executive UK (n.d), Stress At Work Resource: “Work-Related Stress and How to Tackle It”

The Trauma Foundation (2021). How Chronic Stress Builds Up

IMAGES:

Thanks to Isabella and Zsa Fischer, Debashis RC-Biswas, and La Chouette on Unsplash.com

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