“Are you a morning person or a night owl?”

This question is often asked as a great conversation starter but working late is not exactly the same as not being able to sleep. Sleep is a very important aspect of our bodily functioning; it is the biological natural way of our body to help it recharge and stay active. The sleep-wake cycle is our body’s way of telling us when to sleep and when to wake up. Specific hormones are responsible for signaling our body when to sleep. Normally the intensity of these hormones heightens during the night leading to a feeling of drowsiness. The sleep-wake cycle can be affected by a number of factors, including food, light exposure (such as phone screens), stress, mood, exhaustion, etc. The jet lag effect is also the result of this sleep-wake cycle being disturbed as the person’s biological time clock does no match the real-time. Not getting enough sleep has been closely associated with many mood disturbances, concentration problems, attention problems, gastric issues, and in the long run with severe mental illnesses.

Lack of sleep can also escalate existing mood disturbances, people with depression and anxiety have been seen to experience more acute symptoms if their sleep cycle is disturbed. Though it is commonly known that sleeplessness is a resulting symptom in many mental health conditions, recent researches show it might also work as a contributing factor in the development of mental illness specifically depression and anxiety indicating an inverse relationship between sleeplessness and mental illness. However, more research is required to support these findings.


Sleeplessness can be a result of many factors. A major factor is developing a behavior pattern of sleeping late which habituates the body into staying awake during the night. These habits can be altered by few daily lifestyle changes. The most important aspect is to reduce light exposure during the night, especially avoid watching screens in any form – be it your phone, laptop, or T.V etc. The exposure to light is interpreted by our body as it being daytime, leading to sleeplessness. It is advised to avoid using your phone once you get into bed.

It is also worth remembering that checking your phone between the night or right after waking up is not a good idea, as immediate exposure to a screen after waking may lead the body into a “fight-or-flight” response resulting in restlessness and feeling anxious throughout the day.

Another important mantra to follow is “bed is for sleeping”, which means not to do any work on the bed such as using a laptop, reading, studying, or even eating. Using the bed just for sleeping helps us condition our brain into associating it with only sleeping and no other activity. This helps us fall asleep much easier and also helps us control our thoughts associated with work and other activities when we are in the bed. Developing a routine can also help you sleep on time. Sleep at the same time regularly is a helpful practice and can build a routine. Avoiding long naps during the day is another practice that can help one sleep better during the night. Including exercise in your daily routine would further facilitate better sleep once the body is exhausted. Our lifestyle has a major effect on our sleep behavior. That being said, it is advised to see a psychologist/ psychiatrist if the problem worsens!

Author: Rachita Narang

Unable to Sleep?

Try therapy – it can help with insomnia! Our therapists are trained to help you out!

Sleep Comfortably

Get 25% off on Flo Mattresses – exclusively for IAMH clients. Look for this offer by clicking on the rewards button when you check out using Razorpay. (Valid till 31st March 2021)

Share this post: