Stress and Sleep

Stress and Sleep

Stress and sleep – we all need a lot less of the former, and much more of the latter. Unfortunately, chronic stress and lack of sleep can cause a host of health issues.


“Stress” can be mental stress, emotional stress, or physical stress. Typically, they all go hand-in-hand. So even if you do not think you are under “stress,” your body may be telling you otherwise.

Most people are very aware of mental stress and its effects on your mood:

  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Lack of motivation or focus
  • Memory challenges
  • Anger or grumpiness
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Sadness or depression

Sometimes we do not realize that we are stressed until we behave in certain ways:

  • Angry outbursts or irritability
  • Undereating or overeating
  • Avoiding friends / staying home
  • Exercising less often
  • Engaging in drugs, tobacco, and alcohol

So even if you do not think you are under “stress,” your body may be telling you otherwise:

  • Headaches or migraines
  • Muscle tension or pain
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Getting sick more easily
  • Stomach upset
  • Decreased libido
  • Trouble sleeping

Chronic stress over the long term can cause some serious health issues. As usual, it comes down to inflammation, paired with unhealthy behaviors (lack of exercise, improper eating, decreased sleep, etc.). And as we know, chronic inflammation leads to high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, obesity and diabetes.

How to Manage Stress

The good news is that there are plenty of ways to manage your stress – the key is using these strategies regularly. Such as:

  • Breathing exercises
  • Tai Qi / Tai Chi
  • Physical exercise a few days per week
  • Keeping your sense of humor
  • Spend some time with loved ones
  • Engage in your hobbies
  • Eat well
  • Sleep more
  • Consider journaling
  • Talk to a therapist
  • Acupuncture

If you feel like you need more help, stayed tuned for some great herbs!


Sleep is one of the most crucial parts of our day. During sleep, you recharge your mental and emotional batteries as well as physically healing. That is why it is critical when you are sick or injured to rest more to heal faster.

It is also critical for health and development – it is why children and teenagers need so much sleep. Although our needs decrease as adults, the average adult should be aiming for roughly 7-8 hours per night.

If you chronically wake up frequently at night or do not get enough sleep, you are at higher risk of:

  • Coronary heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Stroke
  • Altered hormone levels
  • High levels of leptin and ghrelin, which control hunger (aka, make you more hungry)
  • Decreased insulin control (leading to diabetes and obesity)
  • Decreased physical activity
  • Metabolic syndrome (obesity + high blood pressure + diabetes + high triglycerides + fatty liver disease + low HDL cholesterol)
  • Respiratory challenges like asthma and COPD
  • Memory challenges

How to Sleep Better

There are many ways to help yourself sleep better:

  • Sleep hygiene – your bed is for sleeping and “fun” only – no studying!
  • Have a consistent bedtime and wake up
  • Keep a bedtime routine so your body knows during the routine to get ready for sleep
  • Stop using devices 30-60 minutes before bed
  • Use blue light settings on devices and glasses for the rest
  • Do not drink liquids in the few hours leading up to sleep to decrease nighttime urination
  • Keep your bedroom dark and quiet
  • Make sure your bedroom is the right temperature
  • Try a weighted blanket
  • Meditate or use breathing exercises if your mind is too busy

Need More Help?

Sometimes we do all the right things but our brains and bodies still need more help. And do not feel bad about it – we did not evolve to live in such a stressful, high-paced world. We were hunters and gatherers who had more time for rest, friends, and story-telling – now we are working 40+ hours per week to barely make ends meet while worrying about potential WW3.

Here are my top 3 herbal picks to help with both stress and sleep! (The best part is that they are all non-drowsy and can be used long-term!)


Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb – what that means is that it helps your body better adapt to stresses. It is a great pick for people who are “wired but tired” – you are exhausted so you go to bed just to lay awake with your mind running in circles.

It is also great for anyone experiencing adrenal fatigue (now known as hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis dysfunction). Some common symptoms of adrenal fatigue are just being tired all the time, unrestful sleep, fatigue in the afternoons around 1-3pm, and a second wind around 11pm.

Bonus: the longer you take Ashwagandha, the better it works!

Nevaton Forte

Nevaton Forte is what is nicknamed “herbal Xanax.” This is our strongest herbal complex to help with mental and emotional stress. It is very calming due to its combination of Skullcap, St John’s Wort, Schisandra and Saffron. It can be taken regularly during periods of increased stress or as needed before stressful events (such as presentations).


Kava is a fantastic herb that has been used for thousands of years. It was traditionally brewed into a tea for peace talks.

Kava helps more for those people who have trouble physically relaxing. Like you have tight muscles that just will not let go. It pairs well with both Ashwagandha and Nevaton!


As always, discuss any herbs and supplements with your healthcare practitioner.

Written by Dr. Janine Pulley on March 4, 2023.


  1. Stress symptoms: Effects on your body and behavior. Mayo Clinic.
  2. How stress affects your health. Updated October 31, 2022. American Psychological Association.
  3. Why is Sleep Important? NIH.