Stress, Sleep and Eczema: How Are They All Related?

Sleep and Eczema

We all know how stress can trigger eczema, so it’s important to keep stress under control in order to prevent flare-ups. In our previous blog post, Eczema and Stress: Are They Related? Learn to Calm You Mind and Skin, we discussed a variety of tips to control stress and say goodbye to stress eczema (stress induced eczema). Today we’re going to also talk about eczema stress, and how it’s different as well as the role a good night’s sleep can have on happiness, well being AND on your skin.

Please keep in mind that although these tips have worked for many eczema sufferers, I am in no way a medical professional. If you’re experiencing severe eczema or have a topical infection, it is always best to seek medical advice immediately. 

First, we’re going to define a couple of “new” eczema terms that are relevant for this post and for anyone suffering from eczema.

Eczema Stress – What is it?

Eczema stress is when one worries and stresses over their eczema and symptoms. Eczema stress can be a vicious cycle as worrying about your skin can in turn trigger more eczema and can lead to stress eczema.

Stress Eczema – What is it?

Stress eczema is eczema that is triggered by stress. Stress is a very common trigger for eczema and so stress eczema is equally common and hard to manage.

Now, let’s get into how stress, sleep and eczema all interrelate.

Relationship between Sleep and Stress

It’s not difficult to understand why sleep is so important. Healthy sleep gives us energy throughout the day, improves our performance, regulates our metabolism and immune system, decreases inflammation, and so much more.

But it doesn’t only do that! Sleep can actually reduce the risk of certain diseases. In fact, poor sleep increases the risk of obesity by 55%, increases the risk of type 2 diabetes by 50%, and doubles the risk of having a stroke or heart attack.

There is no doubt about it, we need our sleep to stay optimally healthy.

Unfortunately, when stress comes into play it can be very difficult to get a good night’s sleep, especially with eczema stress – remember that’s the worry you have about your eczema. This is because of the body’s physical and psychological response to a perceived threat. Stress can actually cause many physical changes such as quickened or shallow breathing, as well as the release of adrenaline or cortisol that provide bursts of energy. When your body is in a continuous stressed state, sleep becomes almost impossible, creating even more stress. Not at all what we need when managing eczema.

Eventually, this sleep-stress cycle can impact your overall health and well being, causing fluctuations in your gut health, weight and respiratory system.

It can also cause or trigger eczema – as we defined above as stress eczema. So, getting a good night’s sleep can be crucial in eczema healing. Keep reading for our tips for better sleep!

Relationship between Sleep and Eczema

As mentioned above, eczema can be reduced through a good night’s sleep. However, what happens when you can’t get to sleep due to eczema symptoms OR eczema stress (worrying about your skin)? 

Many eczema sufferers can actually suffer from sleep deprivation due to the itch-scratch cycle that tends to worsen overnight. Instead of getting a peaceful night’s rest, they end up subconsciously scratching their skin raw during the night (which doesn’t allow the body to rest) or are up all night trying to handle the itch. Whichever it is, it’s important to figure out what can help you rest easier, so that you avoid stress-induced eczema or stress eczema and get the amount of sleep you deserve.

How to Sleep Better With Eczema

Getting a good night’s sleep is not only important for reducing stress, but it’s imperative for healing eczema. Most healthy adults require between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night to function optimally. Children on the other hand require around 9 to 13 hours of sleep and toddlers requires 11 to 14 hours of sleep per night.

The following are a few sleep recommendations that can help you reduce your levels of stress, therefore reducing your risk of stress eczema and in turn eczema stress. Again, Please keep in mind that although these tips have worked for many eczema sufferers, it is always best to seek medical advice.

Eczema Skincare

Eczema can get insanely itchy at night, which means that both skincare and clothing can help dramatically. Opting for an anti-itch natural treatment for eczema can provide much needed relief to get you through a good night’s sleep. This Organic Manuka Skin Soothing Cream is a thick, nourishing balm that provides moisturizing to even the driest and itchiest skin. By layering this on right before bed, itching and scratching can be significantly reduced. Looking fore options? Check out The Eczema Company who sorts their natural products by Types of Dermatitis and symptoms.

Eczema Clothing

To prevent scratching, opting for eczema clothing for the soothing fabrics and skin protection is important. Using scratch mittens such as these ScratchMeNot Slip Mittens for Babies and Children can be a lifesaver for little ones suffering from overnight scratching. Remedywear (known for their soothing TENCEL and zinc material) makes these kids gloves for eczema and adults gloves to prevent subconscious sleep scratching.

Another wonderful solution is wet or dry wrapping with both natural skincare and eczema clothing. Both these methods use a rich moisturizer mixed with bandages to allow emollients to further permeate the skin, therefore reducing itching and scratching. Make sure to check out our Dry Wrapping and Wet Wrap Therapy blog posts to learn more.

Many people swear by wrapping the skin for long lasting comfort all night long. In fact, we have been hearing great feedback on Remedywear’s full line of clothing for eczema, which includes tops and bottoms for adults and children, socks, gloves and more. In fact, Remedywear’s fibers were clinically proven [1] to reduce the itch and provide a better night’s sleep for people with atopic dermatitis. We think that’s pretty cool!

Alternatively, to discover how to stop scratching eczema at night, check out this blog post.

Eczema Bedding

Like eczema clothing, it’s important to opt for eczema bedding that keeps skin well protected. Regular sheets can actually trigger eczema for some due to certain allergens, textile dermatitis or sweat (read more about eczema and sweat). To discover the best types of eczema bedding, sheets, pillows and much more, make sure to check out our blog post: The Benefits of Eczema Sheets & Bedding (And Our Top Recommendations!)

Bedtime Routine

Aside from protecting your skin, it’s important to develop a bedtime routine in order to stay calm and relaxed, as well as reduce stress. Not sticking to a consistent sleep schedule can throw off your body’s internal clock and lead to even more stress. It’s also important to keep a consistent before bed routine. Try leaving 15 to 30 minutes aside before bed to get your body to wind down. Reading or meditating before bed are great ways to relax before hitting the sack. No TV or internet! This will overstimulate the brain, making it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Bedrooms for Sleeping

Although it’s difficult to avoid, technology can be a big reason why you’re also not getting a good night’s rest. By removing the light produced by certain technologies like TVs, phones, etc, you’re allowing your brain to release melatonin, making it easier to fall asleep. Some people find these blue light blocking glasses very helpful when worn in the evening as it gets closer to bed time. Even with them, again no tv or internet close to bedtime.

Sleep support and Meditation

We suggest looking into sleep support resources or meditation to help relax your body prior to bed. There are a variety of sleep meditations that can be done to fully relax the body and decrease stress prior to bed. Make sure to check out the BreatheHeadspace and Calm apps – all of which are excellent for night or midday meditation. My favorite for falling asleep is the body scan, give it a try.

Lastly, sleep support books or forums can also help. We’re particularly fond of The Paleo Mom’s Go to Bed online program. Not only does it contain a 350+ page guidebook with knowledge on improving sleep for optimal health, but it also includes a 14-day challenge to have you recharge with better sleep. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I need real guidance and an actual program to follow, if you’re the same, you’ll love the Go To Bed program.

Do you find sleep and stress impacts your eczema? What do you do to feel better and help your skin?

References:

[1] Wiegand, 2013, Skin-protective effects of a zinc oxide-functionalized textile and its relevance for atopic dermatitis. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol; 6: 115–121. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3656624/

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