Why does poor sleep cause dizziness?
When you think of dizziness, the chances are that you associate the problem more with issues such as low blood pressure, dehydration or anaemia. Poor sleep isn’t the first thing that will come to mind but, there are a number of sneaky ways that a bad night’s sleep can encourage this symptom; some quite direct and others more indirect. Let’s take a look at a few of them!
1. Poor sleep can cause fatigue
It’s no surprise that sleep deprivation is intrinsically linked to poor energy levels. According to the Great British Sleep Survey, 88% of poor sleepers struggled with fatigue compared to just 29% of good sleepers.1 So, aside from leeching your energy levels throughout the day, how is fatigue associated with dizziness? Well, fatigue is associated with a number of symptoms that could potentially contribute to a bout of light-headedness, such as poor concentration, blurred vision, headaches, poor coordination and muscle weakness.
2. Poor sleep can trigger headaches
Ever found yourself nursing a pounding headache after a poor night of sleep? If so, you are definitely not alone – apparently those who suffer from sleep problems are up to 8 times more likely to experience headaches!2 In fact, recent research has found that sleep deprivation could possibly be linked to an increase in some of the proteins responsible for migraines.3 While the relationship here is complex and can spin into a vicious cycle, the important thing to note is that headaches, especially migraines, are often connected with bouts of dizziness. The exact underlying reason why is heavily debated but, in cases of vestibular migraines, it’s believed that abnormal electrical messages in the brain could play a role.4
3. Poor sleep encourages blood glucose fluctuations
Low blood glucose levels are notorious for causing spells of dizziness, in addition to other symptoms like sweating, poor concentration and fatigue. Unfortunately, your quality of sleep does have an influence over your blood glucose levels for a number of reasons; if you’re not sleeping, high cortisol levels can affect the efficacy of insulin, plus if you’re not sleep properly it means you’re going to be more susceptible to unhealthy food cravings. This means you’ll be more likely to indulge in junk food, causing your blood glucose levels to spike before they inevitably crash.
4. Poor sleep affects your drinking habits
If you’re feeling groggy and disorientated then you’re going to be more likely to reach for a cup of tea or coffee than a glass of water. While caffeine can give your energy levels a temporary boost, in the long run it can cause more problems than good. Firstly, caffeine can block your absorption of certain nutrients, such as vitamin C and iron. Iron in particular is worth noting – low iron levels are often associated with dizziness! However, caffeinated beverages can also act as a diuretic which means that, instead of accumulating water, your body is eventually going to lose it. This could potentially leave you feeling dehydrated, another major cause of dizziness.
5. Poor sleep inspires you to use medication
Sleeping pills are commonly used to help tackle sleep problems like insomnia; however, these medications are normally linked to some undesirable side-effects. The next day you can often wake up feeling groggy and confused, but they can also encourage symptoms such as headaches, stomach aches and dizziness!
6. Poor sleep can make you stressed
You’ve probably noticed that you’re not quite yourself after a poor night’s sleep. You could find yourself feeling on edge and more easily agitated than usual. Sleep deprivation has a tendency to wreak havoc with our mood and can make us more vulnerable to stress, anxiety and other negative emotions. This is important because stress is often tied to dizziness as, when you are stressed, it can impact your breathing, making you take shallower breaths, and make you more susceptible to hyperventilating.
How do you get rid of dizziness?
Okay, so you now have a better understanding of how poor sleep can cause dizziness to occur, but what can you do to get rid of it? The good news is that, if your dizziness is indeed being caused by sleep deprivation, there are a number of things you can do to solve this problem!
Start by addressing your sleep habits
If poor sleep has landed you with this troublesome symptom in the first place, then it only makes sense that you should try to address this first. There are so many different factors that can interfere with your sleep; your diet, your stress levels, your digestive system – the list is endless! Establishing a good sleep hygiene routine can go a long way though. Ideally, your preparation for going to sleep shouldn’t start when you get into bed.
Ideally, the last couple of hours leading up to your bedtime should be restful, but these days most of us are watching television, browsing on our smartphones or working on our laptops. These types of devices actually inhibit your production of melatonin, the sleep hormone, so they should be avoided before bed. Try to keep things consistent as well – try to go to bed at the same time every night as this will encourage your body to get into a rhythm.
If you want more advice to help improve your sleep hygiene, don’t hesitate to check out my top tips here.
Consider what you’re eating (and drinking!)
When it comes to dizziness, what you’re eating really matters. As I mentioned earlier, the wrong foods will almost certainly cause problems with your blood glucose levels, which you really want to avoid if you’re vulnerable to dizziness. It can be tempting to rely on quick snacks for rapid bursts of energy but again, ideally, try to focus on those that provide a slower, steadier release. Fruits such as bananas or oats are excellent choices here! It might also be a good idea to include more iron-rich foods in your diet too – remember, having low iron levels is a leading cause of dizziness too!
It isn’t just want you’re eating that counts – sugary coffees and fizzy drinks can spike your blood glucose levels just as quickly as a chocolate bar! Caffeinated drinks, too, can present a number of challenges because of their diuretic properties and ability to block the absorption of certain nutrients. It also doesn’t help that caffeine can linger in your system for a surprisingly long period of time – it can take up to 6 hours for your body to process just half of the caffeine present in your system. That afternoon cuppa can go a long way!
That’s why we try to suggest cutting back on caffeine and opting for alternatives. Herbal teas, for example, can be quite nice here and, of course, plenty of plain water is a must! You could also try our Balance Mineral Drink, as this is bursting with essential fatigue-fighting minerals, like magnesium, calcium and vitamin D, plus it can help to keep you nicely hydrated too!
Get some fresh air
A little bit of fresh air can really help when it comes to rousing you out of a groggy slump, so don’t be afraid to go outside. The sunlight can actually help to give your production of cortisol a little boost, increasing feelings of wakefulness whilst also offering you the chance to soak up some vitamin D. Better yet, if you’re not feeling light-headed, you could try going for a brisk walk or even a jog. This can help to get your circulatory system going, improving symptoms of low blood pressure, a leading cause of dizziness.
Think carefully about your sleep remedies
If you’re currently on any sleep medication, it might be worth considering whether or not this could be having an effect. If it’s been prescribed by your doctor, you could try going back and having a chat to see if you can find something more suitable. However, if not, there’s always our gentle sleep remedy Dormeasan. Unlike conventional sleep medicines, Dormeasan doesn’t provoke feelings of sluggishness the next day, plus it actually helps to relax your nervous system so it’s especially good for anxiety-related sleep problems.
When should you go to the doctor?
A short spell of dizziness normally isn’t anything to worry about; however, depending on the severity and symptoms you’re experiencing, there may be times when you have to speak to your doctor, such as:
- If you’re fainting often
- If the dizziness is reoccurring
- If your vision is being affected
- If you feel nauseous
- If it’s accompanied by a ringing noise in your ear.