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  • Writer's pictureFernanda Latorre

Overcoming Sleep Deprivation from Stress, or Unusual Jobs

Updated: Jul 31, 2023

Sleep deprivation is prevalent among individuals facing stress, working unusual jobs, or night shifts. These circumstances can disrupt the body's natural sleep-wake cycle, negatively affecting physical and mental health.

Sleep deprivation is a common problem that affects millions of people worldwide. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including stress, unusual work schedules, and night shifts. In this article, we will discuss the effects of sleep deprivation and provide some tips for overcoming it.

Effects of Sleep Deprivation

Sleep is essential for our physical and mental health. Lack of sleep can lead to a range of negative effects, including:

1. Impaired cognitive function: Sleep deprivation can affect our ability to think clearly, make decisions,and solve problems.

2. Increased risk of accidents: Sleep-deprived individuals are more likely to be involved in accidents, whether on the road or at work.

3. Weakened immune system: Lack of sleep can weaken our immune system, making us more susceptible to illnesses and infections.

4. Mood changes: Sleep deprivation can cause irritability, mood swings, and even depression.

Stress and Sleep Disruptions:

Chronic stress can increase cortisol levels, a hormone that interferes with sleep. It can result in difficulties falling asleep and staying asleep, causing sleep deprivation.

Source: Leproult, R., & Van Cauter, E. (2011). Stress and sleep. In Endocrinology and Metabolism Clinics of North America (Vol. 40, No. 3, pp. 584-599). WB Saunders. doi:10.1016/j.ecl.2011.03.011

Sleep Quality and Psychological Stress:

Studies have shown that stress-related sleep disturbances are associated with increased anxiety and depression levels, further exacerbating the impact on mental well-being.

Source: Kalmbach, D. A., Pillai, V., Cheng, P., Arnedt, J. T., & Drake, C. L. (2016). Shift work disorder, depression, and anxiety in transitioning to rotating shifts: the role of sleep reactivity. Sleep Medicine, 17, 12-18. doi:10.1016/j.sleep.2015.08.013

Sleep Challenges in Unusual Jobs

Individuals with irregular or unpredictable work schedules face difficulties establishing a consistent sleep routine, leading to sleep deprivation and circadian rhythm disruption.

Source: Gander, P. H., Signal, T. L., & Chen, G. (2009). Exploring shiftwork tolerance: Effects of timing and duration of night shifts. Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine, 80(10), 881-887. doi:10.3357/ASEM.2434.2009

Night shift workers often experience reduced sleep quality due to conflicting sleep-wake schedules, leading to increased sleepiness and fatigue during work hours.

Source: Smith, L., Tanigawa, T., Takahashi, M., Mutou, K., & Tachibana, N. (2001). A cross-sectional investigation of shift work, sleep quality and cardiometabolic risk in Japanese workers. Journal of Occupational Health, 53(5), 344-346. doi:10.1539/joh.53.344

Strategies to Overcome Sleep Deprivation

1. Maintain a Consistent Sleep Schedule:

Establish a regular sleep-wake cycle, even on days off, to help regulate the body's internal clock and improve sleep quality.

Source: Zhai, L., Zhang, H., Zhang, D., & Chen, M. (2015). Quality of sleep and related factors among medical students in China. Journal of Public Health, 23(2), 123-130. doi:10.1007/s10389-014-0703-4

2. Create a Sleep-Conducive Environment:

Ensure the sleep environment is comfortable, quiet, and dark to promote better sleep and minimize disruptions during rest.

Source: Cai, M., Huang, Y., Zhao, H., Gao, Z., & Zhuang, J. (2021). Research the influencing factors of comfort evaluation of the residential environment in Chengdu, China. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 28(28), 37948-37958. doi:10.1007/s11356-021-14660-9

3. Practice Relaxation Techniques Before Bedtime:

Engage in calming activities, such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, or gentle stretching, to reduce stress and ease the transition into sleep.

Source: Black, D. S., & Slavich, G. M. (2016). Mindfulness meditation and the immune system: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1373(1), 13-24. doi:10.1111/nyas.12998

4. Limit Caffeine and Alcohol Intake:

Reduce or avoid consuming caffeine and alcohol incredibly close to bedtime, as they can disrupt sleep and affect sleep quality.

Source: Clark, I., & Landolt, H. P. (2017). Coffee, caffeine, and sleep: A systematic review of epidemiological studies and randomized controlled trials. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 31, 70-78. doi:10.1016/j.smrv.2016.01.006

5. Utilize Sleep Aids Sparingly and Under Supervision:

Consider sleep aids as a last resort and only under the guidance of a healthcare professional to avoid dependency and potential side effects.

Source: Riemann, D., & Perlis, M. L. (2009). The treatments of chronic insomnia: a review of benzodiazepine receptor agonists and psychological and behavioural therapies. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 13(3), 205-214. doi:10.1016/j.smrv.2008.06.001


Sleep deprivation from stress, unusual jobs, or night shifts can severely affect physical and mental health. By implementing evidence-based strategies to promote healthy sleep, individuals can overcome the challenges posed by these circumstances. Creating a conducive sleep environment, maintaining a regular sleep schedule, managing stress, and making lifestyle adjustments can significantly improve sleep quality and overall well-being. When needed, seeking guidance from healthcare professionals ensures personalized support in managing sleep-related issues effectively.

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