The Connection Between Sleep Problems and Mental Health – Guest Piece

A massive thank you to Jo Scrivner for writing this guest piece on insomnia and mental health, if you’d like to read more of their work check out Jo’s blog!

Sleep disorders are conditions affecting the quality or quantity of your sleep on a regular basis.

The symptoms of sleep disorders include:
  • difficulty falling asleep
  • feeling more exhausted after a night of sleep than you did before
  • difficulty sleeping through the night, waking up often and having troubles falling back to sleep
  • excessive drowsiness and fatigue during the day
  • having trouble concentrating
The most common types of sleep disorders are:
  • Insomnia
  • Hypersomnia
  • Parasomnia

There is a strong link between sleep and mental health: mental health problems can affect the amount and quality of your sleep, and poor sleep can have a negative impact on your mental health.

How can mental health disorders affect sleep quality?
  • The anxiety-induced constant tension and racing thoughts can make it difficult to fall asleep or sleep through the night.
  • Depression can cause excessive drowsiness, and disturbing thoughts can prevent you from falling asleep.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is often accompanied by nightmares. This can result in the person being afraid of go to sleep, which can also lead to insomnia.
  • Insomnia, restless sleep, or excessive drowsiness may also occur as a side effect of medications prescribed by a psychiatrist for various mental health disorders. Abrupt discontinuation of certain medications can also cause sleep problems.

Sleep problems can be the first sign of deteriorating mental health. The worse you sleep, the less you feel able to cope with everyday life, and as a result, you can find it even harder to sleep well at night.

Anxiety causes insomnia, or insomnia causes anxiety?

The answer usually depends on which one came first.

Lack of sleep can increase the risk of developing anxiety disorders. However, insomnia can aggravate anxiety symptoms or prevent recovery.

Anxiety can also contribute to restless sleep, mostly due to chronic insomnia or nightmares.

According to Harvard Health Publishing, sleep problems affect more than 50% of adults with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).


If you can’t fall asleep, you might start worrying about whatever’s on your mind. If you worry a lot, you can’t sleep. When you worry about not being able to sleep, it’s like your fighting against your own body. It’s a terrible vicious circle.

The relationship between sleep and mental health

The relationship between mental health and sleep is not fully understood yet. According to Harvard Health Publishing, neurochemical studies show:

  • Adequate quantity and quality of night sleep strengthens emotional and mental resilience
  • Chronic sleep problems can lead to negative thoughts or the inability to control emotions
  • Treating insomnia can help relieve the symptoms associated with anxiety disorders, and vice versa.
Are you suffering from insomnia?

If you have been suffering from insomnia for a long time and it affects your daily performance, we recommend seeking professional help!

Medical examinations can help you find out if there are physical causes behind your sleep problems (such as an illness or other underlying conditions) or you can get a referral to a sleep specialist.

Published by Michelle Quinton

Mum, wife, perpetual student, freelance writer, weight loss coach, artist and occasionally model. I love to try new things, I love to write and I love studying and researching. Never thought I'd see the day that studying became something I enjoyed, but here we are. My blog is where I put my thoughts, I also plan to start a blog of short stories, with a new prompt for each story.

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