If you've been feeling stressed out lately, the circumstances you're buckling under may not be the problem -- it may be lack of sleep. Sleep deprivation wears down our normal capacity to deal with daily aggravations and challenges, such as normal rush hour traffic.
Running short on sleep seems to lower the threshold for "stress perception." When you're dead tired, having to stop at the grocery store on the way home from work may seem like an impossible task, not a routine activity.
While lack of sleep can augment stress, stress itself can lead to inadequate sleep. Studies have shown that stress hormones can be stimulating, especially in middle-aged men [source: The Franklin Institute]. This may be due to overactivation of the stress response system in later hours of the evening.
Research seems to indicate that people who sleep soundly in times of stress are more focused on tasks, while those who respond to stress by losing sleep keep their focus on their roiling emotions [source: The Franklin Institute].
But if you can't remember what it is that's stressing you out in the first place, you may be experiencing the next sign of sleep deprivation that we'll discuss.