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What Is The Relationship Between Sleep And Mood?

Last updated Nov. 8, 2016

Approved by: Krish Tangella MD, MBA, FCAP

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Waking up in the morning after a restless night, you can feel irritable, cranky, and susceptible to stress. Studies have shown a link between inadequate sleep and depression symptoms.

There is a high probability that you have experienced firsthand how sleep can impact your mood, especially in a negative way. Waking up in the morning after a restless night, you can feel irritable, cranky, and susceptible to stress. When your body is restored with proper sleep, your mood often stabilizes to normal.

It has also been found that sleep not only affects mood, but mood can also affect sleep. Having anxiety will increase agitation and arousal, therefore making it more difficult to sleep. Stress causes the body to be more aroused and alert as well. Those who are constantly stressed out are more likely to experience sleep problems.

Research has shown that even partial sleep deprivation can have a substantial impact on mood. A 1997 study at the University of Pennsylvania found that individuals who had limited sleep of 4.5 hours a night for a week stated that they felt angrier, stressed, upset, and mentally exhausted. A reinstatement to normal sleeping patterns after this week caused the individuals to report that they experienced a drastic enhancement in mood.

Sleep and Depression:

Studies have shown a link between inadequate sleep and depression symptoms. A study conducted in 1996 at the Department of Psychiatry at the Henry Ford Health Sciences Center in Detroit, Michigan showed that 15 to 20% of people that have been diagnosed with insomnia will develop major depression.

Research is demonstrating that sleep difficulties may, in turn, contribute to psychological problems. Studies of chronic insomnia have shown that it may increase the risk for developing mood disorders like anxiety or depression. A study completed in 2007 at Haukeland University Hospital in Bergen, Norway observed 10,000 adults. Those with insomnia were 5 times more likely to develop depression than those without insomnia. Those with insomnia in the same study were 20 times more likely to have a panic disorder. This study is a major indication of how sleep deprivation affects mood and psychological behavior.

If you are experiencing sleep problems and feeling depressed or less emotionally receptive, there are several options for treatments that can help.

  • Examine your sleep habits to see if there are steps you can take on your own to improve your quality or quantity of sleep.
  • If the problem continues, it is important that you see your medical provider to talk about your sleep problems and mental health concerns.
  • If your medical provider suggests a treatment for you, the treatment may include different forms of therapy or medication.

Even in the absence of a sleep problem, doing your best to ensure you are getting adequate sleep will lead to an enhancement in overall mood and health. Some steps you can take may include:

  • Maintaining a regular sleep-wake cycle each night
  • Make sure your sleep environment is conducive to sleeping, i.e. adjust light exposure, temperature, noise, etc.
  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol before bedtime
  • Go to sleep when you are actually tired
  • Avoid naps too close to your scheduled bedtime

Since sleep can clearly have a substantial impact on your mental health each day, it is essential to ensure you are taking the adequate measures to get a proper amount of sleep each night. Talking to a healthcare professional can help you improve your current sleep pattern and lessen the chance of mood changes and development of psychological disorders such as depression and anxiety. Starting each day on a positive, healthy note can do wonders for your mental health and overall well-being.


Sleep and Mood [Internet]. The Division of Sleep Medicine at the Harvard Medical School [updated 2008 Dec 15, cited 2014 Dec 26]. Available from: http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/need-sleep/whats-in-it-for-you/mood

Dinges DF, Pack F, Williams K, Gillen KA, Powell JW, Ott GE, Aptowicz C, Pack AL. Cumulative Sleepiness, Mood Disturbance, and Psychomotor Vigilance Performance Decrements During A Week Of Sleep Restricted To 4-5 Hours Per Night. Sleep. 1997;20(4):267-77.

Adopt Good Sleep Habits [Internet]. The Division of Sleep Medicine at the Harvard Medical School [updated 2008 Dec 12, cited 2014 Dec 26]. Available from: http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/need-sleep/what-can-you-do/good-sleep-habits

Neckelmann D, Mykletun A, Dahl AA. Chronic Insomnia as a Risk Factor for Developing Anxiety and Depression. Sleep. 2007;30(7):873-80.

Breslau N, Roth T, Rosenthal L, Andreski P. Sleep Disturbance and Psychiatric Disorders: A Longitudinal Epidemiological Study of Young Adults. Biological Psychiatry. 1996;39(6):411-418.

Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:

Akashiba, T., Kawahara, S., Akahoshi, T., Omori, C., Saito, O., Majima, T., & Horie, T. (2002). Relationship between quality of life and mood or depression in patients with severe obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. Chest Journal, 122(3), 861-865.

Cheng, M. H., Hsu, C. Y., Wang, S. J., Lee, S. J., Wang, P. H., & Fuh, J. L. (2008). The relationship of self-reported sleep disturbance, mood, and menopause in a community study. Menopause, 15(5), 958-962.

Thomsen, D. K., Mehlsen, M. Y., Christensen, S., & Zachariae, R. (2003). Rumination—relationship with negative mood and sleep quality. Personality and Individual Differences, 34(7), 1293-1301.

Buysse, D. J. (2004). Insomnia, depression and aging. Assessing sleep and mood interactions in older adults. Geriatrics, 59(2), 47-51.

Bauer, M., Grof, P., Rasgon, N., Bschor, T., Glenn, T., & Whybrow, P. C. (2006). Temporal relation between sleep and mood in patients with bipolar disorder. Bipolar Disorders, 8(2), 160-167.

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Nov. 8, 2016
Last updated: Nov. 8, 2016