Poor sleep can lead to anxiety

Poor sleep can lead to anxiety

How long you sleep and what time you go to bed could lead to anxiety and negative thinking, according to new research.

Study leaders at Binghamton University in New York found that people who went to bed very late at night and slept for a brief number of hours were more likely to be “overwhelmed with more negative thoughts,” than people who kept more regular sleep habits.

This isn’t the first time research has been done on the connection between sleep and anxiety, but the Binghamton team wanted to find out if the actual time someone hits the hay makes a difference.

“When you go to bed, and how long you sleep at a time, might actually make it difficult for you to stop worrying,” said study authors Jacob Nota and Meredith Coles in a statement.

For the study, 100 university students were surveyed about how often they “worry, ruminate or obsess about something,” and about their sleeping habits and patterns.

The results showed that those who sleep for shorter periods of time and go to bed later are more prone to have troubling, repeating, thoughts that seem beyond their control.  They tended to be worried about the future and feel regret about past life events.

Study leaders hope their report leads to better treatment for anxiety and mood disorders as people move to more regular and longer sleep cycles.

“Making sure that sleep is obtained during the right time of day may be an inexpensive and easily disseminable intervention for individuals who are bothered by intrusive thoughts,” they said.

Poor sleeping habits can not only affect your mental health but physical too, experts say.

“Sleep disorders are a serious health issue and have been proven to increase a patient’s risk of heart disease, hypertension, stroke, diabetes and related conditions,” says Dr. Adam Posner, medical director of the Advocate Condell Medical Center sleep centers in Libertyville, Ill. “The most common problems include insomnia, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome and narcolepsy.”

Related Posts



  1. This study is very accurate because there are times when I feel anxious with school, relationships, etc. and I have trouble sleeping.

  2. Thanks Vince for the article. So true-a good night sleep is a blessing in many ways…

  3. This snippet of an article does not address the fact that there is no correct time to sleep during a day. There are many people who have an earlier or later sleep schedule than the norm due to their personal metabolism. And, no, those with a such a personal metabolism cannot just force themselves into a “normal” schedule.
    Going to bed too early and just lying there waiting to sleep contributes greatly to obsessive, depressing thoughts &/or to disturbing dreams and fitful sleep, as does similarly lying abed trying to sleep because one has awakened “too early” (and, of course, if one is already feeling anxiety or depression, sleep does not proceed normally).

    The brief article also ignores the fact that there are many people, such as the elderly, for whom 8 hours of “continuous” sleep is not normal.

    Additionally, it does not mention the benefits of taking a nap when needed, regardless of the number of hours of sleep or when during a day that sleep is obtained. However there are harmful effects to sleeping more than is needed.
    The body, if given too much sleep, will keep wanting more until one keeps nodding off during the waking hours. Individuals can end up sleeping for 20 hours a day, much as if one were suffering or recovering from a severe illness and actually needed that much sleep. Such individuals need to seek counseling as much as do those with insomnia.

    A related side-note: Scientific testing has established that, if given no cues to sleep or wake (such as noises, a job or sunlight changes), the average, healthy body tends to operate on a 25 hour schedule, sleeping for 8 hours, but going to sleep and waking a little later every “day”. Returning to regular life after such a testing experience often required some sleep deprivation in order to be tired enough to sleep at the “proper” time.

    The ideal is to sleep when truly tired and to arise (not just awake) when one is not, including naps as needed. If only our daily lives allowed for this!

  4. Also, could it be that negative thoughts and anxiety could be the influential factor here? I’m not sure how the study may have controlled for this, but it seems like correlation is being misrepresented as causation based on the info in this article.

    • I agree, Brynne. Is it the anxiety leading to less sleep or the lack of sleep leading to anxiety? Seems like either would be true!

Subscribe to health enews newsletter

About the Author

health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.