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The Science Behind Sleeping When Stressed

Key Takeaways:

  • Consistent stress can affect your circadian rhythm, making it more difficult for you to fall asleep.
  • Creating a soothing bedtime routine and taking sleep-promoting supplements – such as Valerian Root Extract, Melatonin, L-Theanine, and more.

Here’s what to do when your worries are keeping you up at night.

Count sheep. Stare at the ceiling. Get a drink of water. Try counting sheep again. 

Most people, at one point or another, have experienced the struggle of falling asleep when stressed. When you’re stressed, it’s more difficult to fall asleep, and yet it is also one of the times when you need sleep the most! 

Keep reading, as we explore the ins and outs of stress-affected sleep.



Why is sleep so important?

“Getting more sleep,” is often the advice given to any number of issues – and for good reason. Although often overlooked, sleep can greatly affect your overall mental and physical health.

When you’re asleep, your brain is still hard at work forming new pathways to help you learn and remember information. Sleep is also good for the brain when it comes to attention span, decision-making, and creativity. Adequate sleep contributes to your emotional well-being by helping you to stay sharp and more engaged during the day. Sleep contributes to overall physical health by allowing your body a chance to heal, repair cells and tissue, and help keep your immune system strong.

According to the National Sleep Foundation’s guidelines, adults should get anywhere from seven to nine hours of sleep per night.1


How does stress affect sleep?

Seven to nine hours of sleep sounds like a dream. For many people, stress gets in the way.

Stress results in the release of hormones that produce the ‘fight-or-flight’ response2 and is typically triggered when we feel threatened. The ‘fight-or-flight’ response was incredibly useful for our ancestors in dealing with predators and other threats. But for most modern humans, our stressors are traffic jams and deadlines more often than lions and tigers.

What’s more, regular, ongoing stress can even impact your circadian rhythm.3

Circadian rhythms – also known as body clocks – are 24-hour cycles that influence bodily functions such as eating habits, hormones, and temperature.4 It’s why you get hungry at dinner time and sleepy at night.

However, circadian misalignment is becoming increasingly common. Shift-work, late-night scrolling, or added stress can increase circadian disruption, resulting in a disturbed sleep-wake cycle.5


Bedtime tips for coping with stress

So, how can we counteract the alertness? Put simply, we can relax.

While stress increases our heart rate and our breathing rate while narrowing our blood vessels, relaxation has a similar physiological response: when we relax, our stress hormone levels drop, allowing our heart rate and breathing rates to decrease and reducing our oxygen consumption.6

Getting the best sleep possible starts long before you’ve turned off the lights. Creating a healthy, consistent, and relaxing bedtime routine can help grant better quality sleep.

Let’s look at a few ways you can improve your sleep.


Take a bath 

Soaking in a warm tub is a soothing way to relax at the end of the day. Try using lavender-scented soaps or oils to promote relaxation and de-stress. 


Listen to soothing music

Research shows that music has a direct effect on the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps the body relax and prepare for sleep. Music has the power to slow your heart rate and breathing, lower your blood pressure, and even trigger your muscles to relax. When browsing for the best bedtime playlist, slower is better. Look for a rhythm of 60-80 beats per minute, which you’ll find mostly with classical, jazz, or folk songs.7


Practice yoga 

Yoga is a gentle way to wind down your day. A national survey found that 55% of people who practiced yoga found that it helped them get better sleep, and over 85% said yoga helped them reduce stress.8 Deep, controlled breathing is the key to relaxing through yoga; focus on slow steady breaths while relaxing your muscles.



Writing out your worries can actually help you fall asleep faster. One study followed two groups – one which wrote out their to-do list before bed, and the other wrote a list of things they had already completed. Those who wrote a to-do list fell asleep significantly more quickly, suggesting that writing about stress-factors may actually help individuals fall asleep faster.9


Get out of bed

This one might sound counterintuitive, but it can be an effective way of dealing with sleeplessness. It comes down to how we associate specific activities with specific environments or times of day.10

If you find yourself lying in bed unable to sleep, your mind buzzing with stress, you might be tempted to force yourself to try and sleep anyway. That might not be the right thing to do: your brain and body may start to associate your bed and bedroom with wakefulness rather than restful sleep. After 15 or so minutes of trying and failing to sleep in your bed, get up and do something relaxing in another part of the house until you feel more drowsy.

By the same token, what you do in the daytime might be hurting your chances of sleeping at night. Our beds certainly look like a comfortable place to take a quick break in the day, but by lying in bed and scrolling through Instagram (or any other wakeful activity,) you might be building associations between your bed or bedroom with activities other than sleep.


Supplements that can help 

Solgar® Sleep & Stress Support

Finally, a supplement that supports occasional sleeplessness and stress management.

Solgar® Sleep & Stress Support is a melatonin-free formula made with sleep-supporting herbs and L-theanine for stress support for occasional sleeplessness and occasional stress.* Each serving is 100% drug-free and non-habit forming, and helps you:

  • Fall asleep quickly*
  • Improve sleep quality so you can wake up feeling ready to take on the day*
  • Feel calm and relaxed*
  • Stay rested throughout the night*

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


Solgar® Triple Action Sleep

With three layers of ingredients, Solgar® Triple Action Sleep can help you stay asleep longer and wake up feeling refreshed during times of occasional sleeplessness.* Each tablet contains:

  • Melatonin: an important factor in your sleep-wake cycle that’s supplied as both quick-release melatonin to help you fall asleep faster and time-release melatonin to help you stay asleep longer.*
  • L-Theanine: an amino acid that interacts with neurotransmitter GABA to support a calm and relaxed mood.*
  • Nighttime Herbal Blend: made up of chamomile, lavender, lemon balm, and valerian root extracts.

This advanced sleep-supplement also leverages clinically-studied time-release technology to dissolve at different times throughout the night so that you get the sleep support from melatonin you need all night long.*


Solgar® Daily Stress Support

Solgar® Daily Stress Support is a 100% drug-free and non-habit-forming way to support your ability to deal with occasional mental and physical stress.*

It is made with clinically-studied Rhodiola and PANMOL® B-Complex from organic quinoa sprouts.*

Each serving of Solgar® Daily Stress Support helps:

  • Build your body’s resistance to stress*
  • Aid in your ability to deal with mental and physical stress*
  • Provide relief from occasional stress-related mental fatigue*
  • Support your ability to stay calm*
  • Support energy metabolism and nervous system health*

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


Solgar® Stress & Anxiety Relief

Solgar® Stress & Anxiety Relief is a herbal-based formula combines KSM-66® Ashwagandha, the most clinically-studied form of this herb, with affron® Saffron, which is clinically-studied to help maintain a positive mood and support emotional wellbeing.* Together, they help your body better manage the disruptive symptoms of occasional emotional stress.*



The most common sleep supplement, melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that helps regulate the body’s sleep-wake cycle.* Darkness stimulates melatonin – promoting a relaxed and restful sleep – while light suppresses it.*

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), studies suggest that melatonin is useful for supporting sound sleep and can help with bouts of occasional sleeplessness related to jet lag and daylight savings time.*11

Explore a full list of Solgar®’s melatonin products here.



Naturally occurring in green tea, L-theanine is a non-essential amino acid that supports relaxation and a positive mood.* Several studies have shown that L-theanine supplementation influences alpha brain wave activity, thus promoting relaxation.* It may also interact with GABA, a quieting neurotransmitter, contributing to its calming effects.*

Solgar®’s Suntheanine®** is a patented, pure form of L-theanine that has been clinically researched for more than a decade.



Magnesium plays a role in more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body and it is one of the most important nutrients needed by the body.  Magnesium citrate is one of the most studied forms of this essential mineral and is the preferred form for absorption. At least 300 mg of magnesium citrate per day helps support a calm and relaxed mood and also helps with occasional anxiety and stress.*

Magnesium also helps support muscle health and normal muscle function, which can promote restful sleep.*

Try Solgar® Magnesium Citrate Tablets.



5-HTP supports the brain’s production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep and mood.* Research has shown that supplemental 5-HTP can increase serotonin levels in the brain.* 

Check out Solgar® 5-HTP 100 mg Vegetable Capsules.


Valerian Root Extract 

Valerian root is a flowering perennial native to Europe and Asia that has been used since ancient Greek and Roman times. It is traditionally used to support calm, tranquil rest.*

Try Solgar® Standardized Valerian Root Extract.


At the end of the day…

At the end of a stressful day, getting a good night’s sleep can make all the difference to your emotional and physical health. Introducing a consistent, soothing bedtime routine and taking premium supplements where necessary can help take you from counting sheep to catching Zs. 

For more tiny tips on how to live your healthiest life, follow us on Instagram (@solgar) and find us on Facebook (Solgar® Vitamin and Herb)!

*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 providers 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.

**Suntheanine® is a registered trademark of Taiyo International, Inc.