Anxiety, Depression Linked with Poor Sleep

For many people, it’s difficult getting a good night’s sleep. They never feel rested and struggle to get through the day. Very often, they get drowsy while driving — resulting in accidents. There is a strong link between mental illness and sleep problems, and it’s important to understand this relationship. 

Getting to the root cause of the problem will lead to treatment — so you finally get a restful night’s sleep, every night. Your personal life will also improve, as sleep problems can negatively affect your work, family and social life. 

Let’s examine common sleep problems and the link with mental health.


Insomnia is very common and is closely related to anxiety, depression, and stress. If your work or personal life is stressful, you will have trouble sleeping. 

The pattern of the insomnia helps doctors understand the mental illness. For example, if you wake up too early, this can signal depression, sadness, low energy and difficulty concentrating. 

Short-term insomnia occurs often, and is typically caused by lifestyle, stress, travel and life events. Generally simple lifestyle changes will help including exercise or a hot bath. When insomnia lasts more than three weeks, it’s important to see a physician or a sleep specialist. 

Effect on mental health problems

Disrupted sleep can also worsen several mental health problems, and can decrease the effectiveness of certain treatments. The effects of poor sleep have been studied on schizophrenia, ADHD and other mental illnesses, and there is strong evidence indicates a link between these medical and mental illnesses. 

Other causes of sleep problems

Insomnia can be a symptom of another illness that should be investigated by a medical doctor. For example, if you suddenly don’t feel the need for sleep, and have increased energy, you might be experiencing mania, a symptom of bipolar disorder.

Anxiety disorders are often the cause of sleep difficulties. Panic attacks may occur during sleep, a sign of a panic disorder. Nightmares can affect sleep quality, and may be a sign of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is also linked with sleep difficulties. 

Substance use can also affect sleep. Excess alcohol can cause disrupted sleep, even though you may fall asleep quickly. Some sedative medications will cause sleepiness but the sleep may be disrupted. 

Sleep apnea and poor sleep

Sometimes insomnia or other sleep problems are caused by sleep apnea, which is a medical condition that affects a person’s ability to breathe while sleeping. 

The frequent “apneas” or pauses in breathing can cause brief awakenings, and even though the person  may return to sleep, these interruptions can affect mood and productivity the next day. Over time, this pattern can worsen ability to concentrate, memory problems, learning, and ability to process information.

Sleep apnea can also lead to serious mental and behavioral difficulties. Anxiety is common among those with sleep apnea, as they may have “nocturnal panic attacks” and general uneasiness. However, with treatment these symptoms will become greatly diminished.

You deserve a good night’s sleep

If you constantly have trouble sleeping, it’s important to get help. A doctor can assess your symptoms, your lifestyle and other factors to determine the cause of your sleep problems. Lifestyle changes help many people, which others may need medication or therapy. 

If a medical condition like sleep apnea — or a condition like panic disorder — is causing your sleep disruptions, take heart in knowing there is treatment that will help. 

The sleep specialists with Millennium Sleep Lab can help you find answers to your sleep problems. Regardless the root cause of your sleep disorder, we will guide you to treatment that will help. Everyone needs a good night of restorative sleep, every night. It’s best for your overall health, and for your mental health.