Can Sleep Deprivation Cause Anxiety?


Sleep deprivation can be a triggering cause of anxiety. The average adult requires around 7 hours of sleep per night to feel well-rested and functional. However, if a lack of sleep becomes a common problem for you, you might start to feel significantly anxious.

This is made worse by the fact that anxiety sufferers can have difficulty falling asleep. This post will outline how anxiety and sleep are connected, other side effects of a lack of sleep, and how to get a better night’s sleep if you suffer from anxiety.

What Does Anxiety Feel Like?

Anxiety is a mental health disorder that affects people both emotionally and physically. Anxiety sufferers may feel constantly nervous, worried, and this can affect their concentration levels and leave them feeling incredibly restless. Physically, anxiety can leave sufferers with tense muscles, a rapid heart rate, breathing, sweating, trembling, and excessively tired.

How Are Sleep and Anxiety Connected?

According to the National Institute of Health, over 40 million Americans suffer from chronic, long-term sleep disorders, and an additional 20 million report sleeping problems occasionally. One of the triggering causes of a lack of sleep could be anxiety, a mental health condition that 19.1% of the adult US population suffers from.

Sleep and anxiety are intrinsically linked: while sleep can cause anxiety symptoms, anxiety sufferers may also have difficulty falling asleep. However, it’s important to note that just because you have anxiety, it will lead to a lack of sleep, and just because you have a lack of sleep, it will lead to anxiety.

What Are Other Side Effects to a Lack of Sleep?

There are many short-term and long-term side effects of a lack of sleep. These vary in severity, but it’s clear that sleep is vital to prioritize with all of these side effects. The short term risks include:

  • A lack of alertness
  • A general feeling of sleepiness
  • Quality of life
  • Stress
  • Impaired memory

The long-term risks from lack of sleep include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure
  • Stroke
  • Obesity
  • Depression
  • Impairment in immunity

How Do I Get A Better Night’s Sleep If I Suffer From Anxiety?

There are some ways that you can get a better night’s sleep if you suffer from anxiety. These include:

  • Practice meditation for anxiety, Make sure to focus your mind and your breath to calm yourself down. Visualize a serene environment as you practice.
  • Regular exercise benefits your mental and physical health by releasing endorphins.
  • Play soft and calming music before getting into bed.
  • Establish a regular and relaxing bedtime routine. This routine can include low-level lighting, reading a book, taking a warm bath, meditating in bed, and ensuring your room is cool, dark, and quiet.
  • Use your bedroom as a bedroom - don’t use it for any other activity than sleep.
  • Talk to a licensed professional.

Anxiety can affect your sleep quality, and a lack of sleep quality can trigger anxious thoughts. To minimize these side effects, you must prioritize your health and well-being, including having a fixed bedtime and rigid sleep schedule.

There are undoubtedly other ways to prioritize your mental and physical health to get a better night’s sleep, like meditation and exercise.

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Photo of Noga Sapir - Reflect Author, the author
Written by Noga Sapir - Reflect Author

Noga is the founder and CEO of Reflect Innovation. Noga’s work lies in the intersection of technology and design, and how tactility can create unique experiences in the mental health space.

Reflect Innovation was conceived in 2016 when, while completing her degree in Textile Design, Noga developed Reflect, looking to invent solutions for her own struggle with anxiety.

Noga holds a BSc. in Neuroscience from Tel Aviv University and BDes. in Textile Design from Shenkar College of engineering, design, and art.

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