Bad Mood, Down in the Dumps, Depressed? Lack of Sleep Could Be a Cause

Do you feel moody, down in the dumps, easily overwhelmed and overburdened? The natural solution to combat your blues could be as simple as getting more sleep.

The Risks of Lack of Sleep to Our Mental and Emotional Health

Our mood is one of the first things that gets affected when we don’t get enough sleep, whether it’s because of insomnia or simply because we go to bed too late. Sleep researchers consistently find that people who don’t get a full night’s sleep are more irritable, less vital, less even-tempered, and overall less happy. Lack of sleep also tends to result in a more negative outlook on life and makes one feel more easily overwhelmed and overburdened.

Studies also show that mood is not only the first thing that gets affected, it is affected more adversely than anything else. Worse, you don’t need to lose very much sleep before your mood starts to suffer.

In one study, researchers compared women who got at least eight hours of sleep with women who got seven hours or less. The women who slept less than eight hours experienced seven times as much fatigue, five times as much tension, and twelve times as much nervous apprehension.[i]

In short, chronic inability to sleep may cause our mental and emotional health to suffer. Indeed, surveys suggest that people who suffer from chronic insomnia are more likely to develop psychological problems.[ii]

You don’t need a sleep researcher to tell you that lack of sleep makes you more vulnerable to stress, worry, and anxiety. When we don’t get enough sleep, even simple problems appear overpowering. Without enough sleep, we quickly lose our ability to maintain perspective, increasing the sense of being under pressure and decreasing our ability to relax.

Recurring insomnia, of course, can also be a symptom of depression, so it’s a circular issue: depression is linked to insomnia, and insomnia further aggravates depression. If you can find ways to sleep better during the night, it will also likely help combat depression over time. (Of course, if you have problems sleeping over a long period of time, always consult with a doctor, particularly if you feel depressed as well.)

Natural Insomnia Remedies

Many people who suffer from insomnia are hesitant to turn to the sleep medications of Western medicine, because they are concerned about the potential for addiction and side effects.

Fortunately, if you have a fairly mild case of insomnia, there are many natural insomnia remedies, which can be quite effective. Herbs like valerian, chamomile, passion flower, and kava kava (in small amounts) have a deeply setting effect on mind and body.

A restorative yoga practice before bed time can offer great natural relief for insomnia. In addition, a vigorous yoga practice like hot yoga or a Vinayasa practice (during the day, not close to bedtime) can help relieve insomnia by cleaning blocked energy and cope better with stress—both of which will also often bring relief for depression, if that is the underlying issue.


[i] Goldberg, P. and Kaufman, D. (1978). Natural Sleep. How to Get Your Share. Emmaus: Rodale Press.

[ii] According to the National Sleep Foundation. This statistic presents a bit of a chicken and egg problem, since sleep problems also can be an accompanying symptom of psychological disorders.  In other words, it can be difficult to determine whether the insomnia was a symptom accompanying not yet diagnosed psychological disorders, or whether it was a contributing factor to the emergence of psychological problems.

YogaUOnline course Yoga for Healthy Sleep with Dr. Loren Fishman and Ellen Saltonstall

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