Understanding The Effects of Stress On Sleep Quality

Last updated: September 10th, 2023

Understanding Stress And Its Impact On Sleep

Stress is an inescapable part of modern-day life. It can present itself in myriad of ways, whether it’s anxiety due to a hectic lifestyle or feeling overwhelmed with responsibilities. On the other hand, sleep is equally important for human wellbeing and has been linked to improvements in overall health, as well as decreased stress levels and better mood. How does stress affect sleep, and what measures can we take to achieve better sleep quality?

Stress And Sleep Quality

In conditions of stress, the cortisol hormone is produced. A study carried out at the University of Minnesota in America reported that cortisol acts to reduce both rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep.

REM sleep is the stage of sleep when dreaming occurs, and is vital for physical and mental re-energizing effects. What’s more, insufficient REM sleep has been linked to the worsening of some mental health issues. NREM, on the other hand, is the longest and deepest stage of sleep which is conducive to physical and mental restoration.

Cortisol production is highest during the day, so at night the hormone works to suppress the sleep hormones, melatonin and GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). Consequently, insufficient cortisol production at night makes it difficult for one to fall and stay asleep, resulting in poor sleep quality.

The Stress-Sleep Cycle

Insufficient sleep due to stress then can lead to a vicious cycle where a person might not be able to fall or stay asleep due to stress, and further, to continue to feel tired and stressed even after getting some rest due to the low-quality sleep.

This is due to dysregulation of the endocrine system within the body-- which would battle against insomnia and cortisol-- resulting in chronic stress, experienced during the day and at night. The sense of being overwhelmed only perpetuates the cycle of stress and sleeplessness.

Stress and Sleep Disorders

Adding to the potential issues that could arise with heightened levels of stress, it can also be a predisposing factor for sleep disorders in some people. Having trouble sleeping on a regular basis can eventually lead to disorders such as insomnia and sleep apnea, both of which could worsen sleep quality and therefore increase stress levels.

Managing Stress To Improve Sleep Quality

Fortunately, there are steps people can take to alleviate some of the stress they face and improve their sleep quality. Here are some tips that might help:

  • Practice relaxation techniques such as yoga or mindfulness meditation.
  • Maintain a regular sleep schedule.
  • Listen to relaxing music before bed.
  • Try to limit screens 30 minutes before bedtime.
  • Create a comfortable sleep environment.
  • Establish a calming bedtime routine.
  • Exercise daily to reduce stress.

To improve sleep quality, you should also experiment with devices that help reduce snoring. One popular option is a snoring mouthpiece or mouthguard which is a non-invasive device designed to stop snoring.When worn during sleep, an anti-snoring mouthpiece can open the airway and help a person to breathe more easily throughout the night. In doing so, it may also reduce the number of times a person wakes up during the night, resulting in more restful and less interrupted sleep.


Stress and poor sleep quality can form a negative cycle which is detrimental to overall health. To reduce stress and improve sleep quality, one should practice relaxation techniques, maintain a regular sleep schedule and establish a comfortable sleep environment. Furthermore, snoring mouthpieces can be a helpful tool for some individuals to decrease snoring and awakenings during the night and therefore improve sleep quality.

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