Can lack of sleep cause dizziness?

Can lack of sleep cause dizziness?

Can lack of sleep cause dizziness? Dizziness and sleep have a lot more in common than people realize. According to studies, getting ample restorative sleep plays a vital role in helping patients cope with vertigo, dizziness or disequilibrium. But unfortunately many people struggle with insomnia and vertigo and this has a dramatic impact on their physical health and sleep. If you're among these individuals, our short discussion on sleepless nights and their effects on the inner ears and central nervous system can help you understand the relationship and how to get relief from insomnia and vertigo. 

Can Lack of Sleep Cause Dizziness?

The latest numbers reveal that more than 70 million Americans have sleeping problems. Sadly, many of these people also experience spinning sensations, disorientation, and dizziness. Here’s a closer look at the different sleep disorders afflict many Americans.

Sleep Apnea

This is probably the number one vertigo causing sleep disorder for people. When you have sleep apnea, your brain’s blood supply gets reduced while you sleep, leading to headaches and vertigo-related dizziness during the day.

Suppose you suspect that this is the cause of your vertigo. In that case, it helps to consult with healthcare professionals or seek natural remedies for vertigo and sleep apnea, such as upper cervical chiropractic. As a specialized and focused type of chiropractic care, it aims to relieve tension on the neck and correct misalignments that affect breathing when you sleep. In addition, a misalignment in the neck can disrupt the connection between your brain and respiratory system.

Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless legs syndrome may result in fewer sleep hours each night. When you have a severe restless leg syndrome, you're lucky to get as much as five hours of sleep at night, but even those with a milder case do not get a restful night's sleep. Poor sleep quality can trigger an onset of vertigo from lack of sleep when you wake up in the day. 

Insomnia Vertigo

Can insomnia cause vertigo? Insomnia is a widespread sleep disorder that prevents a person from falling asleep or staying asleep. In some cases, insomnia can also cause you to wake up too early and find it difficult to return to sleep. When you have insomnia, you also feel tired when you wake up. Sleep deprivation vertigo can lead to symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, or vomiting. This is one of the reasons why so many people struggle with both vertigo and insomnia.

Sleep-related tips to combat insomnia and vertigo

Sleep with your head slightly elevated

Some vertigo cases (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo) develop because of displaced crystals inside the inner ear. These tiny crystal particles impede your vestibular function. As a result, when you tilt your head at the wrong angle, you experience dizzying and spinning sensations. 

If you have BPPV, you might find it helpful to keep your head slightly elevated when sleeping. You can also try to use specialized wedge-shaped pillows or arrange your pillows to support your head. We also strongly recommend putting a pillow under the neck to avoid additional neck injuries.

Sleep on your back

Sleeping on your back will benefit your spine, but it's also an optimal position to keep inner ear fluids from building up that can cause vertigo. This position can also help prevent calcium crystals in your ear from shifting positions and interfering with your inner ear’s function. We strongly recommend finding the right pillow to support your body when you change to this new sleeping position. 

Sleep, natural remedies for vertigo

Stand slow when you wake up

While it might be tempting to jumpstart your day immediately after your alarm goes off, we suggest taking things a bit slow if you have vestibular or vertigo-causing conditions. To help minimize the chances of vertigo episodes, move slowly and gently from a lying to a sitting position.

You should also avoid making too many head movements so your body can regain its balance and prevent the risks of slipping, tripping, or falling. Do this even if you're just about to take a bathroom break in the middle of the night. 

Have a stress-free bedtime routine

Shaking off your stress or blowing off some steam can help you enjoy a restful night and uninterrupted sleep. It can also help you avoid vertigo attacks when you’re awake. Many doctors, chiropractors, and other healthcare professionals recommend developing a routine that relaxes or calms the mind. Here are things you can try to combat stress: 

  • Journaling
  • Meditating
  • Drinking caffeine-free tea
  • Run a warm bath
  • Light scented candles in the bathroom or bedroom
  • Diffuse essential oils
  • Avoid alcohol intake before bedtime
  • Avoid heavy dinners or midnight snacks 
  • Lessen screen time and unplug from your social media accounts at night 

Natural Remedies for Insomnia and Vertigo

There are many options for natural remedies for insomnia and vertigo. Some you can choose to do at home, such as getting a good night's sleep, staying hydrated, and adjusting your diet. Others also try physical therapy, The Epley Maneuver, and The Brandt Daroff exercise.

If these don’t work for you, or if you have a history of head and neck injuries like post-concussion syndrome and whiplash, you can try upper cervical chiropractic. It’s a unique and focused approach to restoring balance in the body by applying precise chiropractic adjustments to re-align the C1 and C2 bones to the head and other vertebral bones. 

Upper cervical misalignment

Upper Cervical Care for Insomnia and Vertigo

A misalignment in your upper cervical spine prompts a lot of medical conditions and symptoms, including those that trigger insomnia and vertigo attacks. When the two bones start to misalign (even just for a tiny fraction), the connection between the brain and body is disrupted. This can lead to a variety of issues, such as:

  • Poor fluid drainage in the inner ear 
  • Faulty or impaired proprioception
  • Lack of blood and nutrients in the brain
  • Pressure on the vestibulocochlear nerves

Insomnia and Upper Cervical Chiropractic

The review of the literature on upper cervical chiropractic and insomnia found that some studies have noted improvement in insomnia following upper cervical chiropractic. The article "Insomnia Can Be Treated with Upper Cervical Chiropractic" argues that insomnia can be caused by misalignments in the upper cervical spine, which can compress nerves and disrupt the body's sleep/wake cycles. It suggests that correcting these upper cervical misalignments through upper cervical chiropractic care can help restore proper function and treat insomnia.

Vertigo and Upper Cervical Chiropractic

The article "Effects of chiropractic care on dizziness, neck pain, and balance" reviewed the existing research on the effects of upper cervical chiropractic on cervicogenic dizziness (vertigo). It found that there were a variety of studies including case reports, observational studies and two randomized controlled trials suggested a benefit of upper cervical chiropractic for dizziness of cervical spine origin.

The case series "Improvement of Dizziness Following an Upper Cervical Chiropractic Technique and Individualized Vestibular Rehabilitation Program" examined 8 cases where patients with dizziness experienced improvement after receiving upper cervical chiropractic care. The authors hypothesized that structural misalignment of the craniocervical junction may contribute to dizziness through mechanisms like mechanoreceptive dysafferentation.

The article "The Connection Between Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care and Overall Health" also mentions vertigo and dizziness as conditions that can be related to misalignments in the upper cervical spine, and that can potentially be improved through upper cervical chiropractic care.

Frequently Asked Questions: Can Lack of Sleep Cause Vertigo?

Q: How to stop dizziness from lack of sleep?

A: The best way to stop dizziness related to sleep deprivation is to get adequate rest. Here are some tips to manage acute dizziness:

  • Hydrate: Drink plenty of water. Dehydration can worsen dizziness.
  • Rest: Sit or lie down until the dizziness subsides.
  • Eat something: A light snack can sometimes stabilize blood sugar levels.
  • Avoid sudden movements: Get up slowly and avoid quick head motions.

Q: Does sleep deprivation cause vertigo?

A: Yes, lack of sleep can directly lead to vertigo or worsen existing vertigo symptoms. Sleep deprivation affects the inner ear's vestibular system, responsible for balance.

Q: Can lack of sleep make you feel off-balance?

A: Absolutely. Lack of sleep disrupts the brain's ability to process sensory information, including signals for balance. This can lead to general feelings of instability or unsteadiness.

Q: What's sleep deprivation vertigo?

A: It's a term used to describe vertigo episodes triggered or worsened by a lack of sleep. It's not a separate medical condition, but rather a symptom of inadequate rest.

Q: Does insomnia cause vertigo?

A: Insomnia and vertigo are often linked. Insomnia can lead to sleep deprivation, triggering vertigo. Additionally, the stress and anxiety sometimes associated with insomnia indirectly affect balance mechanisms.

Q: Is it common to have vertigo and insomnia together?

A: Yes, it's fairly common. Insomnia makes it harder to get deep, restful sleep, which can then contribute to vertigo symptoms. Conversely, vertigo-related dizziness may make it difficult to fall asleep, exacerbating insomnia.

Q: What is insomnia vertigo?

A: The term "insomnia vertigo" isn't an official medical diagnosis. It's often used informally to describe the link between sleep disorders like insomnia and episodes of vertigo.

Q: Can you get vertigo from lack of sleep?

A: Yes, you can get vertigo from lack of sleep. Here's why:

  • Disrupted Vestibular System: The vestibular system, located in your inner ear, is crucial for maintaining balance. Sleep deprivation can disrupt its function, leading to vertigo sensations. Misalignments in the upper neck can greatly exacerbate both insomnia and vertigo.
  • Brain Fog: Lack of sleep slows down brain function and impairs the ability to process sensory information efficiently, including those signals related to balance. This can lead to feelings of dizziness and vertigo.
  • Exacerbation of Existing Conditions: If you already have an underlying vestibular disorder like BPPV (Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo) or Meniere's disease, sleep deprivation can worsen the symptoms, making vertigo episodes more likely.

If you're experiencing unexplained vertigo, getting enough sleep is important. But it's also important to have your head and neck alignment evaluated if you have a history of head or neck injuries. Upper Cervical Care is not always top of mind, but you'll be surprised by how much this method can help you when you're struggling with insomnia and vertigo. Seek a licensed upper cervical specialist so you can have a thorough evaluation of your upper neck today!

Find An Upper Cervical Doctor in Your Area

to schedule a consultation today.

Find an Upper Cervical Specialist In Your Area

to schedule a consultation today.

Featured Articles


Montel Williams
Montel Williams

TV show host Montel Williams describes how specific chiropractic care has helped his body.

NBC's The Doctors

The TV show "The Doctors" showcased Upper Cervical Care.

CBS News/Migraine Relief

CBS News highlighted the alleviation of Migraines and Headaches.

The content and materials provided in this web site are for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to supplement or comprise a medical diagnosis or other professional opinion, or to be used in lieu of a consultation with a physician or competent health care professional for medical diagnosis and/or treatment. All content and materials including research papers, case studies and testimonials summarizing patients' responses to care are intended for educational purposes only and do not imply a guarantee of benefit. Individual results may vary, depending upon several factors including age of the patient, severity of the condition, severity of the spinal injury, and duration of time the condition has been present.