Finding Sleep in the Face of Stress: Expert Advice from Professor Michael Gradisar

Our day-to-day lives seem to be increasingly plagued by stress and sleep deprivation. Endless lists, spinning many plates…. I don’t know about you, but switching off in the evening is often hard and can require a strategic approach.

In my recent De-Stress for Success podcast episode, Professor Michael Gradisar, an acclaimed sleep expert and clinical psychologist, discusses the intricate connection between stress and sleep, offering practical tips to improve sleep quality amidst stress.

Professor Gradisar explains that stress often triggers physiological and mental hyperarousal, inhibiting the relaxation necessary for sleep. In contrast, insufficient sleep impedes the body’s capacity to manage stress, creating a detrimental cycle. Recognising these interrelations is key to improving sleep patterns and managing stress effectively.

Interestingly, Professor Gradisar debunked some common misconceptions about pre-sleep rituals, such as the impact of late-night television or alcohol. Contrary to popular belief, watching TV has a near-zero correlation with sleep disruption, whereas alcohol, while initially promoting relaxation and sleep onset, suppresses REM sleep, crucial for developing resilience to stress.

Professor Gradisar further highlighted the importance of sleep education, underscoring the need for reliable resources. From renowned sleep apps like SleepCycle to Matthew Walker’s podcast, credible information about sleep is pivotal in managing sleep patterns and coping with stress.

Sleep deprivation has far-reaching implications, from reduced work performance due to presenteeism (attending work while sick) to life-threatening situations, particularly for individuals in high-risk occupations. Professor Gradisar suggested several coping mechanisms for sleepiness, including strategic caffeine intake and mindfulness body scan techniques, to improve sleep onset time.

One key takeaway from the discussion was the significant role of cognitive therapy in managing sleep and stress. Unhelpful thoughts, excessive worry, and negative reflections often disrupt sleep. Cognitive therapy, while requiring time and practice, offers an effective method to counter these unhelpful thought patterns, promoting better sleep.

Finally, Professor Gradisar provides practical tips to enhance sleep quality, including the beneficial effects of natural light exposure and maintaining a healthy diet. He also emphasised the significance of resilience in managing stress and creating an environment conducive to sleep.

In conclusion, managing stress and improving sleep quality require an informed, multifaceted approach. Whether it’s debunking common myths or providing practical sleep tips, insights from sleep experts like Professor Gradisar can significantly contribute to our understanding and management of stress and sleep, leading to healthier, more balanced lives.


To learn more about the Professor Gradisar’s services, goto:


Sleep Cycle app:

The Matt Walker Podcast:

Body Scan for Sleep:


To learn more about alcohol and sleep, head to episode 8 of the Not Drinking Today Podcast.


To learn more about my services or to book in a no obligation 30 minute chat, head to:

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What is Your “Meaning” or “Something Larger” in Life and Why is This Important to Know?

Imagine having a compass, a North Star, guiding you through life, providing a profound sense of contentment and satisfaction. In my most recent podcast episode, of De-Stress for Success, “What is Your Meaning or Something Larger in Life and Why is This Important to Know?” I delve into the intrinsic link between our life’s purpose and our overall wellbeing.

Purpose is more than just what we do; it is about who we are and why we exist. It is the thread that weaves together our life’s narrative, providing a coherent sense of identity and direction.

Purpose and meaning can be drawn from various wellsprings – the accomplishment of bold goals, service to others, spiritual awakenings, and the deep emotional bonds we share with people. Achieving ambitious goals can serve as a potent source of meaning. Working towards these goals can instill a sense of accomplishment, leading to increased satisfaction and happiness.

Moreover, the act of serving others can foster a sense of purpose and meaning. Through acts of kindness and generosity, we can make a tangible difference in others’ lives, fostering a sense of purpose and enhancing our sense of self-worth.

Spiritual awakenings can also serve as a great source of meaning. Spirituality can provide a larger framework for understanding our existence, helping us make sense of our place in the universe.

Emotional bonds, too, are a crucial source of meaning. The relationships we build with others, characterised by love and emotional connection, can provide us with a sense of belonging and purpose.

During the episode, I challenge listeners to dig deep, uncover their passions, and identify what truly ignites joy within them. Discovering your passion can act as a beacon during turbulent times, guiding you towards your life’s true meaning.

Finding meaning and purpose in life is closely linked to our overall life satisfaction. It transcends fleeting moments of happiness to provide a sense of fulfillment and contentment. A strong sense of purpose can also act as a protective factor against mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.

Finding meaning in life is a deeply personal and introspective journey. It often involves self-reflection, exploration, and a willingness to engage with both the philosophical and practical aspects of your existence. If you’re struggling to find meaning, don’t hesitate to seek support from a therapist, coach, or counsellor.

In conclusion, discovering your life’s true purpose can lead to a profound sense of happiness and contentment. It can serve as your North Star, guiding you through life’s ups and downs, providing you with a sense of direction, and ultimately leading you towards a more fulfilling and satisfying life.