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4 Ways Poor Sleep Affects Your Mental & Physical Health

Key Takeaways:

  • Sleep deficiency can affect your mental health, brain health, immune health, heart health, and more.
  • Taking a sleep supplement is one of the best ways to support quality sleep.

Approximately one-third of Americans are not getting enough sleep.1

And if you’ve ever had a night where you struggled to get enough sleep or spent the night tossing and turning, you already know how you’ll feel the next day — grumpy, tired, and run down. But missing out on the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep does more than just make you irritable; a lack of sleep can have serious consequences on your mental and physical health.

Education is power, and learning the effects of a lack of sleep can help you prioritize your sleep and your health.

Let’s take a look at what the research says are some of the biggest effects of sleep deprivation on your physical and mental health.


How a lack of sleep affects your mental health

Most people understand that their sleep affects their mood, but fewer people understand that sleep deficiency and mental health have a bidirectional relationship. This means that a lack of sleep can worsen symptoms of mental health disorders, and mental health disorders can make it more difficult to sleep.2

Brain activity fluctuates during sleep, increasing and decreasing during different sleep stages that make up the sleep cycle. Research shows that brain activity during sleep has profound effects on emotional and mental health.3

REM sleep, in particular, facilitates the brain’s processing of emotional information. During sleep, the brain works to evaluate thoughts and memories, and it appears that a lack of sleep is especially harmful to the consolidation of positive emotional content. This can influence mood and emotional reactivity and is tied to mental health disorders.4

Can a lack of sleep cause anxiety?

Like mood and sleep, anxiety and sleep also have a bidirectional relationship. Research has found that sleep deprivation can instigate or worsen anxiety disorders and that people who are prone to anxiety are especially sensitive to the effects of insufficient sleep.5

However, people with anxiety may also experience greater anxiety about falling asleep — known as sleep anxiety — which can lead to sleep deficiency. This negative loop means that anxiety and sleep deprivation can be self-reinforcing; worrying causes poor sleep, contributing to greater anxiety and further sleep difficulties.

But don’t worry, we have lots of tips that can help you improve your sleep — just keep reading.


How a lack of sleep affects your brain health

Sleep deficiency affects both your mental health (your mood) and your brain health (your memory, judgment, etc.).

In the short term, sleep deprivation can affect your stress hormones, disrupting your cognition and destabilizing your moods. For some people, this can cause more volatile and intense reactions to everyday life stressors or situations. It may also make you irritable and angry or affect your ability to concentrate and pay attention to detail.6

Severe sleep deprivation can cause microsleep, which means you may fall asleep for a few to several seconds without realizing it. Microsleep can be very dangerous if you are driving or in a situation that requires greater attention, like operating heavy machinery.7

Explore our brain health supplements


How a lack of sleep affects your immune system

Your immune system is your body’s first defense, and sleep provides essential support to both your adaptive and innate immune systems.

During sleep, certain components of the immune system rev up. For example, increased activity in the immune system appears to be driven both by sleep and by circadian rhythms, the body’s 24-hour clock.

If you are ill or injured, this increased immune response while sleeping may help with recovery as the body works to repair wounds or fight off an infection.8

And, just like sleep can help the brain consolidate memory, research suggests that sleep strengthens immune memory. The interaction of immune system pieces during sleep reinforces the immune system’s ability to recognize and react to dangerous antigens.9

A lack of sleep has both short- and long-term effects on the immune system. In the short term, the risk of infections has been found to be higher in people who sleep less than six or seven hours per night. Studies have found that insufficient sleep makes it more likely to catch the common cold or the flu.10

Explore our immune health supplements


How a lack of sleep affects your heart health

Your heart is working hard all day to keep all of your bodily systems functioning optimally. And although it is certainly still pumping while you sleep, during sleep, your heart rate slows, blood pressure drops, and breathing stabilizes — which reduces the stress on the heart and allows it to recover from the strain that occurs during the day.11

If you don’t get enough quality sleep, you won’t spend enough time in the deep stages of NREM sleep that benefit the heart, which can lead to a number of heart problems.12

Explore our heart health supplements


Sleep supplements to help you rest easy

Best melatonin sleep supplements


The most delicious way to get the sleep you need, Solgar® Sleep Support Jelly Beans help promote a good night’s sleep and are:*

  • 100% drug-free
  • Vegan-friendly
  • Made with naturally-sourced mixed berry flavors
  • Non-GMO

And, they’re free of gelatin, dairy, soy, yeast, sodium, artificial flavors and sweeteners

Solgar® Triple Action Sleep

Triple Action Sleep leverages time-release technology that allows each layer of ingredients to dissolve at different times throughout the night to help support occasional sleeplessness.*

Just one tablet offers three layers of different benefits:

  • Calming L-theanine, an amino acid that interacts with the neurotransmitter GABA to support a calm and relaxed mood, plus a nighttime herbal blend that includes lavender, lemon balm, and valerian root.*
  • Quick-release Melatonin: a naturally-occurring hormone that helps control your circadian rhythm and helps you fall asleep fast.*
  • Time-release Melatonin: clinically shown to supply melatonin gradually over 8 hours to support more restful sleep throughout the night.*

It’s also non-GMO, vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free.


Our Liquid Melatonin supports sound sleep with tasty dark cherry flavored drops to help you fall asleep faster.* And, they’re vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, and kosher!

Solgar® Full Spectrum Curcumin Sleep Ease

Two Solgar® Full Spectrum Curcumin Sleep Ease Licaps™ every night helps you support restful sleep cycle patterns and restore mental calmness.*
Let’s take a look at what’s inside:

  • Full Spectrum Curcumin – a highly-absorbable form that provides antioxidant properties and is shown to be longer lasting compared to native curcumin extracts.*†
  • PharmaGABA® – quickly restores mental relaxation and calmness. Helps calm feelings of occasional stress.*
  • Melatonin – helps with occasional sleeplessness and helps you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.*
  • Venetron® – an extract from the Rafuma plant, commonly found in nighttime formulas.

Melatonin-free sleep supplements


This formula contains calming L-Theanine (an amino acid commonly found in Green Tea) plus a clinically-studied combination of three naturally-sourced herbs that work together to support sleep: Valerian, Passionflower, and Hops.*

It is melatonin-free and contains a clinically-studied blend of sleep-supporting herbs, plus L-theanine for stress support* and helps with:

  • Relaxing and calming you*
  • Falling asleep quickly to get a good night’s sleep*
  • Improving sleep quality so you can wake feeling ready to take on the day*
  • Promoting rest throughout the night*
  • Occasional sleeplessness and occasional stress*

And, it’s non-GMO, vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free!



The bottom line

Sleep is essential for all bodily systems, and not getting enough quality sleep can have dire effects on your health. Whether you need to take a sleep supplement or see an expert, prioritizing sleep is a decision you probably won’t regret.

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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. The information on this website is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the Solgar® site.

†As studied on Siberian Rhubarb and measured by the Menopause Rating Scale II; individual variations in symptoms or severity of symptoms experienced during menopause may exist.

^ In clinical studies on Siberian rhubarb after 12 weeks of continued use. Individual results may vary.