Medically reviewed on August 1, 2022 by Karen Janson, M.D. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
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Are you lying in bed, scrolling for tips on how to fall asleep, and asking yourself, "Why can't I sleep?" You’re not the only one. Studies show that approximately a third of American adults suffer from poor sleep and experience insomnia on any given night. Acute insomnia is a sleep disorder that causes people to have difficulty falling or staying asleep, or to wake up too early, or feeling tired. 
Chronic insomnia disorder occurs three or more nights a week of sleep disturbance or if it lasts three months or more and cannot be explained by another health issue. 
Insomnia has a variety of triggers, but stress and anxiety disorder commonly cause sleepless nights.  In this article, we’ll explore the causes and symptoms of stress induced insomnia and how to get a more restful sleep.
Stress induced insomnia refers to chronic sleep difficulty, a striking example of the mind-body connection. When your body experiences stress throughout the day or at night, the nervous and endocrine systems produce adrenaline and cortisol, which can cause sleep disruption. 
These hormones may play a role in:
While these responses are programmed to help you during a stressful situation, such as running away from a charging lion, they can have adverse effects when stimulated at bedtime. 
This “fight or flight” response is far from relaxing and could disrupt your body’s natural circadian rhythm. This may make it more difficult to fall or stay asleep at night. 
Stress induced insomnia is caused by mental stress and anxiety disorder that’s often a result of: 
Because sleeplessness can make daily life more difficult, insomnia often leads to more stress. And thus, an endless cycle of stress and sleepless nights may occur.
Stress-induced insomnia is similar to acute insomnia in that people may experience difficulty falling asleep, feelings of tiredness, and a decrease in cognitive function. 
However, some stress symptoms may also accompany sleeplessness, such as:
If you are experiencing stress, feeling fatigued, and having a hard time getting restful sleep, there are several steps you can take to ease your evening stress and improve your sleep quality.
Energy-burning workouts can help you rest better at night by increasing slow-wave—deep—sleep (non-REM sleep). The endorphins released during exercise may improve your mood, decrease your stress, and improve your energy levels. 
That said, it’s recommended that you exercise at least two hours before bed to give your body enough time to relax. 
Like exercise, caffeine is a stimulant that can wreak havoc on your sleep pattern. Avoid sipping on a cup of coffee too close to bedtime, as it can make it harder for your body to relax.  Instead, fill your evenings—and your cup—with water or herbal teas like chamomile and peppermint.
Removing your phone, computer, and television from your bedroom can reduce your exposure to stress triggers and help your mind relax and improve sleep quality. The blue light from your phone may also make it harder for your body to produce melatonin—the hormone that plays a role in your body’s sleep-wake cycle.  You can learn how to fix your sleep schedule so that you can get the good night’s sleep.
Scribe rather than scroll during the nighttime hours. Journaling can help counteract the negative effects of stress that can often make falling asleep difficult. 
When it comes to journaling, there are several practices you can adopt to relax your mind, including:
Don’t worry about the quality of your penmanship or your content when you journal. This is a therapeutic experience. It’s not intended to be shared with others. Rather, be as honest and expressive as possible to relieve your psychological stress.
Tense and release each muscle group in your body, from your head to your toes.  This can signal to your body that it’s time to let go of the stress responses and relax. Practice the following:
If you’re dealing with insomnia symptoms, stress is a likely culprit. A stress-filled night can often lead to tossing and turning, agitation and mental discomfort. The more nights you're deprived of quality sleep, the more it takes a toll on your mental health and wellbeing.
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Take this sleep quiz to learn more about your sleep hygiene!
Tips on how to fix your sleep schedule
Sleep Quiz: why can’t I sleep?