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How does mental health affect sleep?

November 8, 2022


How does mental health affect sleep

Mental health issues and sleep issues are two sides of the same coin. Scientists say these issues have a “bidirectional” relationship. Previously, we posted about the effect of sleep issues on mental disorders, but this article will explore the other direction. 

Increased difficulty falling asleep

One of the biggest impacts that mental health issues can cause related to sleep is difficulty falling asleep. This can be caused by a variety of disorders, including anxiety or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Anxiety can cause excessive worry at bedtime, and some people even experience anxiety about sleeping which can be related to PTSD. Anxiety is related to our fight or flight response, which is our brain and body’s primal way of dealing with issues that affected us as cavemen, such as being chased by a predator. 

According to Very Well Mind: “When we’re faced with a situation that causes extreme anxiety or fear, our bodies will respond with a sudden, involuntary display of symptoms like:

  • A racing heart
  • Balled fists
  • Dilated pupils
  • Shallow, rapid breathing
  • Tensed muscles”

Exhibiting these symptoms makes it impossible to relax enough to sleep. 

PTSD is often related to those who have experienced highly stressful situations and carry that stress daily. PTSD can manifest in many ways, according to the Mayo Clinic. “Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.”

As we mentioned previously, missing sleep can cause PTSD and anxiety recurrences. Our patients can often get stuck in a vicious cycle before controlling their sleep and relieving the symptoms of anxiety. 

Sleep disturbances

Sleep disturbances are times when you are woken throughout the night. Everybody experiences short-term disturbances, but the more severe disturbances make falling asleep again tricky or impossible. 

Sleep disturbances for those suffering from mental health concerns are often panic attacks that can be triggered during sleep, waking you up. Similarly, traumatic events can cause flashbacks that may wake you. 

Feeling tired frequently 

Sleep disorders are a core symptom of depression. This can include feeling tired frequently or sleeping at irregular times. This can cause a disturbance in your life; you can miss work or school, time to focus on your mental health, and time to spend with your family and friends. Those that have a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep may also experience frequent tiredness because of their other symptoms.


There are some habits you can pick up to make sure that you are able to get a good night’s rest. Relaxation techniques, like meditation or journaling, can be effective ways to wind down before bed. Here is our five-day plan to improve sleep: https://advancedhomecareonline.com/a-sleep-program-to-improve-sleep-over-the-next-5-days/

This is a good place to start, but It may not be enough to relieve the sleeplessness that triggers anxiety, PTSD, or manic episodes. For more in-depth help, reach out to your physician and ask if a sleep study could be right for you. 

At Advanced Homecare, we work with patients daily to figure out the root cause of their sleep issues. We can work with your insurance or Medicaid to provide you with the best level of care necessary. If you are feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, please get in touch with us: https://advancedhomecareonline.com/sleep-studies/ 

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