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Published on May 14, 2020

Expert Unpacks Effects of Stress and Anxiety on Sleep and Provides Tips for a Restful Night

The news of disturbing events in our society, coupled with the pandemic, and whatever else people might be dealing with in their lives, has many struggling to maintain good sleep patterns. With the added stress and anxiety, many lay in bed tossing and turning throughout the night.

Richard Friedenheim, MD, medical director, Sleep Disorders Center, Abington – Jefferson Heath, explains why many are experiencing sleep complications and provides tips to help improve sleeping patterns during a time of heightened emotions.

Worsening Sleep Habits

People may be experiencing sleep issues they never before needed to address such as:

  • Insomnia
  • Nightmares
  • Sleep Deprivation

It is important to take the appropriate measures to work on sleeping habits as soon as possible. Sleep deprivation is bad for the body and can be associated with impaired work performance and lower immune function.

Improving Sleep Habits

Whether these are regular sleeping difficulties, or recent troubles, there are steps you can take to improve sleep habits.

Develop a sleep routine. Establish and maintain a regular sleep routine with about seven to eight hours of consolidated sleep every night.

Engage in stress relieving activities. Attempt to minimize stress through activities like spending time with family, exercising early in the day, yoga, meditation and other relaxation techniques.

Take a warm bath. A warm bath can also benefit your sleep routine. “Some people have shown, from research, that if one takes a warm bath one- and- a- half to two hours before bedtime, the evaporation that occurs after the warmth exposure will actually facilitate endogenous melatonin secretion and start to cool the body, which may promote sleep,” Dr. Friedenheim clarifies.

Avoid face time with electronics. Try not to have an excess amount of face time with electronics within a half an hour before going to bed. “The blue light that is emitted from a device may have effects on period of sleep in terms of the circadian rhythm,” Dr. Friedenheim emphasizes. “It may in fact delay the circadian rhythm, and make it more difficult to transition to sleep.”

Communicate with loved ones. For those experiencing feelings of depression and/or anxiety that leads to difficulty sleeping, communicate openly with friends or family members. Make time for those who are not in the household through technology such as Zoom calls, FaceTime or What’s App.

Manage Stress. As bedtime approaches, try to avoid things that spark stress, such as watching TV, engaging in the news or reading work emails. Before bed, it is important to create a cool, quiet and comfortable atmosphere. Remember to leave electronics in a separate room!

It’s time to feel refreshed again after a good night’s sleep. If you are experiencing severe or worsening sleep habits or other medical complications, contact a physician. Abington – Jefferson Health physicians are readily available through JeffConnect to meet our patients’ needs.

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