How Can You Sleep if You're Stressed?

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

View the Phobias Slideshow Pictures

Ask the experts

When I'm under stress, I can't seem to get any sleep. How can I learn to sleep even during times of emotional stress?

Doctor's response

If you experience short-term, stress-related insomnia, there are some measures you can take to help improve the quality of your sleep.

Make your bedroom an inviting place to be. Clear the clutter and invest in some quality sheets or comforter in a soothing color. Create a welcoming environment with flowers, photos, pictures, candles-whatever makes you feel content and relaxed. Avoid use of the bed for watching TV, eating, or working, so that you are conditioned to associate the bed with sleep. If you do wish to use the bed for a bit of nighttime reading, read only pleasure books in bed.

Establishing a regular sleep-wake cycle is also important. Your body will learn to set its internal clock to your schedule and will eventually respond to internal cues to become sleepy at a given time and to awaken at a given time. A good way to begin this is by getting up at the same time every morning-yes, even on weekends. Even if you're tired, try not to nap. No matter how tempting it may be, that afternoon nap can wreck your body's internal sleep-wake clock and make falling asleep that night even harder.

Finally, don't consume caffeinated beverages in the evening. Remember that eating chocolates and drinking cocoa also are sources of caffeine. Ideally, no caffeine after 4 or 5 p.m. is a good rule to follow. Also, excessive alcohol consumption at any time can also disrupt sleep patterns and lead to unrefreshing sleep.

Medically reviewed by John A. Daller, MD; American Board of Surgery with subspecialty certification in surgical critical care

REFERENCE:

"Stress"
MedlinePlus.gov


Quick GuideWhat's Your Biggest Fear? Phobias

What's Your Biggest Fear? Phobias

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Depression Newsletter

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

Reviewed on 8/25/2017

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors