Sleep and Stress – Are They Related?

Adulthood is actually pretty stressful with all responsibilities, knowledge, and the urge to make the world a better place.

2020 has definitely been the most stressful year for everyone living in the 21st century where technology and medical advancements had made our lives pretty easy and dealing with a pandemic is actually a punch in our stomach. 

According to researches done in this field, general stress has significantly increased in just a few years. Stress and anxiety whether it be because your phone broke down or you lost your dream job, often causes insomnia and other sleep problems. 

Effects of stress

Stress affects one’s physical as well as mental health. The effects can be either very mild to very severe as per the stress you are encountering. There are two types of stress and they are: 

Acute stress 

Acute stress is more mild stress and short term that often comes with fleeting moments of panic and dreads. For example when you realize you are not going to complete a certain assignment in a deadline. 

Episodic acute stress is a kind of elevated version of simple acute stress which is simply an accumulation of individual acute stress.

The burden from day to day struggles may elevate acute stress and cause frustration leading to eating or drinking disorder, clinical depression, etc. 

Chronic stress

Chronic stress, on the other hand, is a more serious stress. Many serious factors such as abuse, trauma, poverty, etc contribute to chronic stress.

People tend to have a problem of letting go of these experiences that can over time wear down the mind and lead to depression and many other mental health problems. 

Sleep and stress

Stress had many negative effects on your body, but you can not shut your stress down completely as it is a response evolved in humans to deal with important situations.

However, what you can do is not let stress get to you badly enough to deteriorate your health. The first and foremost step must be working on your sleep schedule even when you are stressed out. 

In human beings, stress causes the nervous system or more specifically, Autonomous Nervous System (ANS) to release a number of hormones such as adrenaline, cortisol, noradrenaline, and many more.

The sudden release of hormones increases the heart rate and causing the heart to speed up its process of circulating blood to vital organs preparing the body to take immediate action.

This reaction is popularly known as fight or flight response which was important for human survival in the early stages of evolution. 

These imbalances in hormones cause a very irregular sleep cycle resulting in insomnia, disturbed sleep, or even extremely light sleep. 

Sleep deprivation effects

Not getting enough sleep affects one’s lifestyle in more than one way. To live a healthy life from mental wellbeing to physical wellbeing, your body needs to get enough rest to go through another productive day.

Below I have listed a few of the effects of not getting enough sleep which might just be a result of you stressing out. 

  • Feelings of fatigue and malaise
  • Difficulty paying attention, concentrating or accessing memories
  • Impaired performance in social, family, professional, or academic settings
  • Irritability and mood disturbances
  • Hyperactivity, aggression, impulsivity, and other behavioral issues
  • Decreased energy and motivation
  • Increased risk for errors and accidents
  • Interpersonal relationship issues
  • Work-related problems
  • Financial loss
  • Grieving and bereavement
  • Diagnosis or initial symptoms of a disease or other medical condition

How to manage stress for better sleep?

Here are some ways to manage your daily stress so that it won’t affect your sleeping cycle. 


Exercise is a very fruitful way to release your stress. You can choose any form of exercise, either the traditional ones like going to the gym, playing games, or even dancing helps in controlling your stress. 

Increase exposure to daylight 

Living inside the same room doing the same thing causes your life to be monotonous and stressful. 

Eat a healthy diet

A healthy diet includes food that is low in sugar, caffeine, and alcohol as these ingredients can make us feel a lack of energy and sluggish making us more stressed. 

Delegate responsibility

Sometimes taking more responsibilities than one can handle can also elevate stress.

Seek social support

Spending time with family and friends is a good and productive way to handle your stress. 

Meditation and yoga

Meditation and yoga help to bring discipline and mindfulness in your life helping you to manage different aspects of your life.

Seek professional help if required

If nothing seems to work and you have tried everything I have mentioned above then maybe you need to let someone else help you.

Sleep and stress are obviously related to one other as being stressed out leads to a lack of sleep and vice versa.

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