Anytime you take a new medication or get a vaccine and have a new symptom, you may wonder if it’s occurring because of the medical intervention or just happenstance. If you find yourself unable to sleep after getting a vaccine, this side effect is likely unrelated to the vaccine itself.

Keep reading to learn if researchers have found a connection between vaccination and insomnia.

Insomnia is a condition that affects your ability to fall asleep or stay asleep. The condition can severely affect your quality of life. Those who experience insomnia have difficulty concentrating and are more likely to feel anxious and depressed.

While everyone experiences an occasional night of bad sleep, insomnia is different. A person with insomnia has issues sleeping at least 3 nights a week, and their symptoms tend to persist longer than 3 months. They may try at-home interventions to improve their sleep, but won’t see results.

Many vaccines are available in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists many vaccine types available in the United States. These include:

When you get a vaccine, you should also receive a vaccine information statement that describes the most common side effects.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the most common vaccine side effects are pain at the injection site, chills, headache, muscle aches, and feeling tired. Insomnia isn’t currently described as a common side effect of any vaccine.

Although insomnia isn’t listed as a common side effect of vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccine, there is one case report of severe insomnia after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. In another case report, a person experienced the opposite effect — hypersomnia or excessive fatigue — after getting the vaccine.

Is insomnia a side effect of the COVID-19 vaccine?

The most common side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are soreness and redness at the injection site, headache, fatigue, and fever. These side effects will typically improve over a few days.

Insomnia isn’t a known side effect of any of the COVID-19 vaccines. A 2022 study of 176 people who received a COVID-19 vaccine didn’t find any differences in terms of insomnia, fatigue, or depression between people who had and had not received the vaccine.

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Vaccines work by imitating an infection, which causes your body to mount an immune response. Then if you’re exposed to the infectious organism, your body will be able to respond more quickly. The effects help keep you from getting sick or seriously ill.

Most vaccine side effects are related to your body responding to the vaccine. Your body may require greater amounts of energy to build an immune response, which is one reason you could feel tired.

Vaccines can commonly affect your sleep pattern. They may make you feel sleepier or more fatigued than normal. Not everyone who receives a vaccine will experience fatigue. Any sleep-related vaccine effects usually aren’t long enough to be considered insomnia, or months after receiving the vaccine.

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What’s important to remember is that researchers are unable to collect data on adverse effects if they’re not reported. If you experience significant insomnia, or any other unexpected symptoms, after receiving a vaccine, you can report the event using the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System.

As long as vaccines have existed, so has vaccine anxiety. Some people have a fear of needles and the injection itself, while others fear the side effects. On the other side, some people fear having a severe bout of illness if they don’t get the vaccine.

The COVID-19 pandemic presented more examples of vaccine anxiety at a time when the public was also concerned about the deadly effects of the coronavirus. People voiced concerns of anxiety, fear, and uncertainty about their individual risks.

If you do experience vaccine anxiety, which is a heightened reaction or fear related to getting a vaccine, there are a few steps you can take to help reduce it:

  • Try to figure out what is the most significant source of your anxiety related to the vaccine. For example, are you afraid of the needle, having an adverse reaction, or another related factor?
  • Educate yourself using reliable health sites or by speaking with your primary care professional. In general, sites that end in “.gov” are more reliable in terms of well-researched information.
  • Make a plan for when you receive a vaccine. If you’re concerned about feeling fatigued or unwell for a few days, get the vaccine when you have a few days off or when your scheduling is less-demanding.
  • Understand expected side effects. Learning about possible vaccine side effects can help you know if what you’re experiencing is normal or abnormal.

Engaging in activities that also help relieve your anxiety can help too. Resting, enjoying nature, reading a book, watching a favorite TV show, or spending time with loved ones are great ways to relieve anxiety.

If you find that you’re experiencing insomnia after a vaccine or just in general, consider common contributing factors to the condition, such as:

  • advancing age
  • experiencing an acute bout of stress, like pressures at work or a fight with a loved one
  • having side effects or symptoms of mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety

Whatever the cause, insomnia is a common sleep disorder, and treatments are available. If you talk with your doctor about your symptoms, they may first try to rule out other conditions that can seem similar to insomnia. An example is obstructive sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome, which can keep you from having restful sleep.

If your doctor diagnoses you with insomnia, treatments can include therapy and medications to help you sleep better. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a common approach to treating insomnia. This type of therapy focuses on helping you recognize thoughts that are keeping you from sleeping and then addressing those thoughts to reduce anxiety levels.

Sometimes, therapy alone may not immediately help you sleep. If this is the case, your doctor may prescribe short-term medications to help. Examples include benzodiazepines and sedating antidepressants. These medications won’t treat the underlying causes of insomnia, but they could help you sleep.

After millions of people worldwide have received the COVID-19 vaccines and other vaccines, there have been few reports of insomnia related to receiving a vaccine. However, anxiety and worry related to receiving the vaccine (or other unrelated factors) can cause you to lose sleep at night, too.

If your insomnia symptoms persist, talk with your doctor. Several treatments are available to help you get back to sleeping more comfortably.