Poor sleep and its link to mental stress

Have you ever noticed that after a night of tossing and turning, you don't function as well the next day? Then it’s hello grumpiness, annoyance and irritation as you struggle to make it through the day. 

Now, imagine a constant pattern of poor sleep, night after night. Sleep and mood are intertwined, which is why you always need a good night's sleep to reset and regain full functionality.


The link between sleep and stress

Sleep deprivation affects your mental and emotional health. Also, people with mental health issues are more likely to experience insomnia or other sleep disorders. According to the Sleep Foundation, stress can manifest itself in many ways, but these emotional responses generally fall into one of these categories.


Acute stress 

This type of short-term stress is frequently accompanied by panic or dread. Increases in blood pressure and heart rate may happen, as well as feelings of irritability, sadness and anxiety. Acute stress symptoms usually subside after a short time.


Episodic acute stress 

This type of stress is primarily caused by a series of acute stressors. People who are burdened by daily struggles may try to relieve their frustrations by binge-eating or drinking excessively. Clinical depression and heart disease are two other serious consequences of this stress.


Chronic stress 

Poverty, abuse and trauma are all factors that can contribute to chronic stress. People tend to internalise their horrible experiences, which can wear down the mind and lead to feelings of sadness over time. Defects in how the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis in the brain processes stressful situations and communicates with the rest of the body, can also be caused by chronic stress.


How does stress affect your sleep?

Stress causes insomnia, which is a common sleep disorder. Insomnia is characterised by persistent problems with falling asleep, staying asleep or overall quality of sleep. If your symptoms appear at least three times a week for three months, you may be diagnosed with chronic insomnia. And the bad news: the more external stressors - the worse your insomnia. 


Less stress, more sleep

  • Make it a bedtime ritual to put the electronic devices away an hour or two before you nod off. 
  • Why not do a few deep breathing exercises or light stretching to wind down for bed?
  • Try not to isolate yourself from friends and family. They provide social support and can help protect against the negative effects of stressful life events on your mental health.


Should I see the doctor? Yes, if you have any of the following:

  • Inconsistent sleeping problems.
  • Mood swings that make it difficult to get out of bed.
  • Changes in appetite or body weight
  • Difficulty focusing.
  • Your hobbies and interests no longer bring you joy.
  • Ongoing feelings of anxiety.
  • Feeling helpless.

If problems with sleep are worrying you or affecting your daily life, see your doctor for a check-up. Keep a sleep diary and take it with you to your next appointment to show your doctor the patterns and triggers.


This article is for informational purposes only. Always check with your doctor or medical practitioner about any health concerns, before embarking on any fitness or nutrition programme, and usage of any medication.