Stress, Anxiety and Sleep


Such a throw away word really, who is not under stress at some point at time these days. However it is still surprising how some people, even when I ask them what kind of stressors do they have in their life that they come back saying they don’t really have any.

Stress symptoms are varied but for many, feeling anxious, frazzled, weepy, emotional and/or exhausted can impact upon day to day functioning. Although these are typical symptoms of stress, not everyone may feel like this is part of their picture.

You might not feel stress, you may not feel anxiety, but are you sleeping well?
Did you know that daytime stress impacts upon night time sleep? This is because sleep hormones are affected by stress hormones.

Understanding where stress comes from and how it affects the body is key. Stress can be due to any of the following;

  • Emotional stress
  • Work related stress
  • Mental health
  • Poor health (digestive dysfunctional, auto-immune, hormonal, cardio issues, diabetes etc…)
  • Physical stress (high intensity training)
  • Physical trauma
  • Major event (PTSD)


You might be surprised to see physical stress being on there because often people will use say running or something similar to help their mind de-stress. Although the body can adapt to the level of cortisol being released, it is evident that the long term implications on constant cortisol spikes is now an issue for overall health.

The thing is, it doesn’t matter what the stressor, regardless of cause, the physiological effect is the same every time, the body goes into fight or flights mode because we are designed to “run from the Sabre tooth tiger”.

Adrenaline is secreted and this helps to increase our blood pressure, make the heart beat faster, muscles become tense. To help support our vital organs (brain and heart) part of the physiological change is to decrease digestion and immune function, because why does the body need to bother with these systems when actually we are trying to get away from the dangerous tiger!

Cortisol is released allowing an increase in glucose to enter the blood stream (which is often why some people find it hard to lose weight when stress is a major factor in the day to day life). And so this is how the body can get into an unhealthy stress cycle because as we are exposed to stress from so many areas of LIFE, then with the decreased digestive digestive and immune function… we don’t take on nutrients from food and we become sick all the time…two more stresses to add to that cycle.

Acknowledging stress and understanding how it impacts upon the body is the first part to being to better manage stress. Breathing techniques, mediation or yoga will also be very beneficial to the body and mind. A good foundation of nutrition is essential to make sure you are getting all the important nutrients and antioxidants needed for the body to manage stress. And of course, supplements will support the important foundation of nutrition.

Core products to use include a herbal complex aimed at stress such as;

KNH Stress Less 

NZ Health Food Kava Calm

Either of these products have a lovely complex of herbs and/or adaptogens that will help support stress and general wellbeing. For some people it may really help to dampen down the feelings of stress. For those who say they don’t feel stress but still have stressors in their life, these supplements will still offer good adrenal support.

Below are some product suggestions:


B Vitamins

B Vitamins support the central nervous system and often where there is ongoing stress, B vitamins will be depleted. They work really well with stress herbs and can give a really good boost of energy for those that feel flat.

Products to try;


Magnesium is essential for stress also. Not only will it help to relax the muscles, it will be essential for cardio health (the heart is of course a really important muscle!) but also may help improve blood pressure by supporting good arterial structure. Magnesium may also be helpful in supporting sleep due to its muscle support.

Products to try;

Other nutrients which are commonly depleted in a stress picture include Omega-3, Zinc, Selenium and Vitamin C so depending on your key symptoms you may want to consider these in some way.

Sleep products include herbal complexes that are aimed at relaxing the mind and muscles. Just some of the well known herbs that help with sleep include Valerian, Hops, Lavender, Zizyphys, Californian Poppy, Kava etc. These should either be taken just before bed, or at least 1-2 hours before bed. Making sure you truly unwind is essential so that includes not watching TV or using electronic equipment such as a smart phone, tablet, computer etc.

For some reading can be enough to get the cortisol rising so just be aware of this. Deep breathing techniques can be very helpful in helping the mind and the muscles to relax.

Products to try;


For some people who are suffering chronic stress, or even something like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, then seeing a Medical Herbalist or qualified Clinical Nutritionist may be helpful. A good foundation of nutrition is essential to ensure digestive health is on track.

Either one of these experience practitioners will be able to prescribe the right nutrition or supplements as well carry out any appropriate testing that may be required.

If you think you could do with some stress support then why don’t you check out the link’s provided throughout this blog or come into our retail store and chat to one of the experienced staff members.



About the author
Claudia is a Clinical Holistic Nutritionist who believes in the power of real food for creating vibrant health.

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