stress and sleepGuest article

How stress causes sleep problems and what you can do about it

Stress is one of the main causes of sleep problems. In our hectic society a healthy handling of stress is probably one of the most important competencesthat we can appropriate.

In this article you will learn what stress does to your sleep and most importantly what you can do to sleep well anyway.

Stress = sleep problems

A stressful everyday life with many tasks ensures that our Cortisol level permanently increased is. A high cortisol level isn't bad per se. Our natural cortisol levels go up and down throughout the day. In chronic stress, however, it is permanently elevated and your body is permanently under tension. This has consequences for your sleep, especially for restful deep sleep and falling asleep.

A lot of cortisol in the evening ensures that we produce less and delayed melatonin, cortisol is a so-called antagonist of melatonin. Melatonin is the sleep hormone that makes us fall asleep well and ensures physical recovery during deep sleep phases. A high cortisol level in the evening should therefore be avoided as far as possiblewhen it comes to restful sleep.

So one consequence of stress is a lower melatonin level and therefore tend to have problems falling asleep and less restful deep sleep phases. In addition, stress, whether of a professional or private nature, often means that we cannot switch off in the evening. A relaxed evening is usually in short supply.

In bed this leads to the famous Thought Carouselwe turn from right to left because things just won't let go. Also, stress often causes us to do not manage to switch to the relaxation mode in the evening. However, physical and mental relaxation is a prerequisite for falling asleep well.
The above-mentioned consequences then in turn cause us to get too little sleep.

Problems falling asleep shorten our sleep time. In addition, those who suffer from a stressful everyday life, i.e. who have a lot to do, often try to shorten their sleep anyway in order to "manage more" during the day.

Stress not only causes sleep problems, conversely, sleep problems are stress for our body: a vicious circle is created.

Sleeping problems = stress

If we sleep worse and less due to stress, we often put additional pressure on ourselves that "tonight, however, it should definitely work out" with falling asleep. After all, we are all aware that sleep is important. Unfortunately, this only causes us additional stress and it makes it even more difficult to fall asleep.

Little sleep also means stress for our body. If we sleep little, our body thinks we are in an exceptional situation, in a situation full of danger. After all, that's what our ancestors were like. It's not like that anymore. Nevertheless, our body is still poised to react to little sleep with increased cortisol production.

In addition, our body releases more ghrelin, a hormone that signals hunger, when we don't get much sleep: Cravings Attacks after a short night are virtually pre-programmed. Many people also react to little sleep with more caffeine, somehow the day has to be got through. Excessive caffeine consumption means stress for our body and organism.

So we all agree: stress and sleeping problems, a vicious circle that we should not get into in the first place. What can you do?

Tips against sleep problems


Make sure you have sufficient magnesium or take additional magnesium. Magnesium is involved in all processes in our body that have to do with energy. Less sleep = less energy. Furthermore, magnesium is able to keep our cortisol level low despite stress. Additional magnesium in the form of 400 mg daily, preferably in the evening, can especially optimize your deep sleep phases.

Careful use of blue light

Blue light from artificial light sources ensures that our body starts to produce the sleep hormone melatonin later in the evening. However, since melatonin already has its problems due to stress and cortisol, we should avoid further negative influencing factors in any case.

Therefore, try to avoid artificial light sources as much as possible in the evening and to use dimmed light, candles or salt crystal lamps. Alternative: Use blue light filter glasses. These protect your eyes and thus your melatonin production.

No excessive sleeping in

Even if it's hard: After a stressful week with little sleep, excessive sleeping late at the weekend should be avoided. Try to sleep a maximum of two hours more than usual. Your body cannot really compensate for the sleep deficit built up over the week. It also throws your internal clock out of rhythm.

Our body likes regularity and above all consistent sleeping times. If you sleep until 11 or 12 o'clock on Sundays, it is very difficult to fall asleep on Sunday evening, because you feel like you just got up.


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Power Naps

Instead of sleeping extra long on weekends, you should try to use Power Naps during stressful periods with little sleep. These short sleep units of max. 20 minutes, ideally at lunchtime, help to compensate once again for the physical need for sleep, which you may not have had as much of during the night. You tank up on new energy once again and can perhaps save a cup of coffee and thus caffeine.

Good sleep hygiene

Generally pay attention to a good Sleep Hygiene. This means that you integrate sleep-promoting behaviours into your everyday life and avoid sleep-damaging ones. This includes above all the careful handling of caffeine, blue light and alcohol in the evening and also avoiding very strenuous sports in the evening - this only leads to more cortisol and makes it harder to fall asleep. Also a cool one, well ventilated and quiet sleeping environment is part of sleep hygiene.

Relaxation techniques and methods

Even in a stressful everyday life we have to succeed somehow, at night on Relaxation to switch. Like, that's every individual. Helps many Meditation or Yogareading a book, your favourite podcast, an evening tea and the Diarydream travel, or a Time out.

The only important thing is that there are activities where you know: Here I can switch off, forget the rest and go to bed more relaxed than usual. I have a request: The television should not be your preferred relaxation technique.

This article is a guest contribution from


You can find even more tips and knowledge about good sleep on my homepage or on YouTube.

I would like to have a look at your sleep personally and we can improve it together.

Your Fabian from Schlafonaut - sleep coach