The body’s sleep-wake cycle, also called the circadian rhythm, is affected by the exposure to light and darkness during daytime and night, respectively. The circadian rhythm can regulate our eating times, and even hormonal balance.
Research studies have revealed that disruptions in the circadian rhythms, due to factors like shift work, and sleep disorders like sleep apnea could raise the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity, and several other age-related diseases.
Mental stress and poor emotional health appear to impair the circadian rhythm resulting in hormonal imbalances that can contribute to the development of a number of diseases.
Chronic stress could impact our general health through interactions with the gut microbiota. The gut-microbiota-brain axis has the ability to regulate the functions of the immune system.
The lack of a healthy and diverse microbiota could affect the body’s stress responsiveness and trigger the development of disorders linked to immunological dysfunctions, inflammation, and oxidative stress.
Chronic stress-linked immune dysfunctions could result in a decline in the efficiency of the body’s defense mechanisms against cancer and infections. Chronic stress is also correlated with an increased risk of recurrent respiratory infections including the common cold and influenza.
Stress is also implicated as a major contributing factor in inflammatory conditions, like allergies and autoimmune disorders, and the conditions related to systemic inflammation such as diabetes and heart diseases.
Exposure to mental stress or abuse early in life could alter stress resilience and responsiveness throughout life.
The epigenetic changes that are induced by prenatal stress could also lead to hormonal imbalances and cause an increased risk of neuropsychiatric issues such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder in adulthood.
The impact of stress on the various body systems and functions marks the need to adopt strategies to improve stress resilience.