Depression and sleep connection

depression and sleep

Depression can have a significant impact on sleep. In fact, people with depression are more likely to have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. This can lead to fatigue and daytime sleepiness, both of which can further aggravate depression symptoms. In this blog post, we will discuss the relationship between depression and sleep, as well as some of the key things you need to know in order to get a good night’s rest.

What Is depression?

Feelings of sadness, bitterness, or hopelessness can sometimes be a positive reaction to life’s difficulties. These feelings typically come in cycles, are associated with thoughts or reminders of difficult circumstances, and only last for a short time. They do not hinder school work, social engagement, or relationships.

These emotions follow a specific pattern in depression. When they endure for more than two weeks, are felt nearly every day, and last for the majority of the day, they might be linked to a category of mood illnesses known as depressive disorders. Also referred to as clinical depression, depressive problems are characterized by sadness, disappointment, and hopelessness as well as other emotional, mental, and bodily symptoms that cause difficulties with everyday tasks.

Depression is the most common cause of disability in the world, affecting 4.4 percent of the global population. In the United States, depression is the second-most-frequent mental health condition after anxiety. Many individuals with depression are aware that sleep and overall quality of life can be severely affected.

What causes depression?

Researchers aren’t sure what causes depression, but there are a number of circumstances that might raise the possibility. Having a personal or family history of depression, experiencing major stressors or traumas, being on medication, and having specific illnesses are all risk factors.

depression and sleep

About half of all individuals suffering from depression have family histories. A person’s genes may influence the activity of neurotransmitters (substances that help nerve cells communicate) involved in depression, such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.

What are the symptoms of depression?

Physical changes, as well as mood and thought abnormalities that interfere with normal daily functioning, are typical features of depression. The following are some of the symptoms:

  • Persistent sad, low, or irritable mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, or guilt
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities
  • Decreased energy and fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Insomnia, waking up too early or oversleeping
  • Low appetite or overeating
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Depression is more common among women, and there may be distinctions in the symptoms of depression based on sex and age. Men are frequently irritated and angry, whereas women are often sad and guilty. Depression in teenagers might make them irritable and have difficulties at school, while toddlers who believe their parents will die may pretend to be sick or be concerned about it happening.

How is depression treated?

Sleep difficulties can be a symptom of depression, and getting enough rest is vital for your mental health. Depression might have severe consequences on a person’s sleep and overall quality of life; nevertheless, it may be treated. Treatment options include:

  • Counseling: In addition to medication, various types of counseling, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT), can be used to treat depression. CBT for insomnia (CBT-I) is a form of CBT that focuses on chronic sleeplessness.
  • Medications: Antidepressants are a useful remedy for depression. These prescription medications generally take some time to show an effect and patients may need to try several different drugs before finding the one that works best for them. A doctor or psychiatrist can assess the suitability of these medicines and propose a specific variety.
  • Brain stimulation therapies: When medications and other treatments fail to help, some sufferers of depression seek electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) or other more recent types of brain stimulation like repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) and vagus nerve stimulation (VNS). These therapies might be helpful, but they are only offered after the advice of a knowledgeable expert.

Treatment isn’t always limited to one of these techniques; in fact, combining medication and psychotherapy has been found to produce better results than using either alone.

Tips for sleeping better

depression and sleep

Sleep problems can raise the risk of depression in the first place, and persistent sleeplessness can also boost the chance of recurrence among people who have already been treated for depression. As a result, implementing some of the techniques outlined below aids sleep improving mood, and reduces some depressive symptoms.

  • Talk to a therapist: There are a variety of treatments for depression and thought patterns that promote sleep deprivation. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, and psychodynamic therapy are all therapeutic approaches that may help you address some of the underlying concerns and issues that contribute to sadness. Mental health experts might also recommend practical behavioral adjustments to lessen the symptoms of depression while also providing coping strategies to handle sleepless nights.
  • Keep a regular sleep/wake time: It’s difficult to maintain a daily life when you’re depressed. Maintaining a regular bedtime and wake time allows for the essential 7-9 hours of sleep, which allows your body to have a complete night’s sleep. A nightly ritual also serves as an indication that your body is winding down and preparing itself for sleep.
  • Nap carefully: During the day, restless or inconsistent nighttime sleep might make it tempting to catch some z’s during the day. The ideal nap duration is between 10 and 20 minutes, referred to as a “power nap,” according to research. These power naps can help us regulate our emotions, boost alertness, and improve our overall performance. It’s critical to keep your resting period short, however. Napping for longer than 20 minutes may prevent you from falling asleep; napping for less than 10 minutes does not allow you enough time to reap any of the advantages of sleeping.
  • Avoid alcohol: Although alcohol has some benefits, such as promoting relaxation and sleepiness, it has a detrimental impact on our sleep. Binge-drinking before bed results in difficulty falling asleep and remaining asleep, even if it’s only moderate drinking.
  • Get outside: Spending time outside is one of the simplest ways to help you sleep if you have depression. Exposing your skin to sunshine synchronizes your body’s internal clock — our circadian rhythms — and provides signals when you should be awake and when you should go to bed. When we obtain regular light, it is a signal for our bodies to be awake and active. Our bodies produce melatonin as the sun sets in order to cause drowsiness and help us fall asleep. Outside time might be a simple and efficient method of producing natural chemicals in our brain that promote good sleep.
  • Exercise regularly: Exercising is a wonderful way to spend time outside. Not only do you get the health benefits of being outdoors, but it also improves your sleep quality. In fact, studies have shown that people who engaged in mild, moderate, or strenuous activity had excellent or fairly good sleep quality. Furthermore, regular exercise has been found to significantly decrease depressive symptoms, making it an ideal choice for improving sleep wellness and mental well-being.

Tips for coping with depression

There are a number of things you can do on your own in addition to speaking with a psychologist about depression therapy:

  • Exercise: Even low-intensity exercise, such as walking for 10 minutes a day, may have beneficial effects on mood and physical health. Exercise can be as effective as an antidepressant for individuals suffering from mild to moderate depression.
  • Support: Depression can be isolating and despairing, so keep in mind that you’re not alone. Spend time with others, discuss your feelings, and avoid withdrawing from society.
  • Be realistic: Symptoms of depression may improve gradually even with treatment.

Depression can lead to thoughts of suicide. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a 24/7, free, and anonymous support service for those in crisis.

How are depression and sleep related?

Sleep deprivation can lead to depression, and insomnia is frequently a symptom of it. Almost all individuals who suffer from depression have sleep difficulties. Doctors may be hesitant to diagnose depression unless the patient reports issues with sleep.

sleep apnea

Sleep difficulties and sadness have a two-way relationship. This implies that chronic sleeplessness can contribute to depression and that having depression makes you more likely to acquire sleep problems. It’s tough to determine which came first: sleep issues or depression.

Sleep disorders that are associated with depression include insomnia, hypersomnia, and obstructive sleep apnea. Insomnia is the most prevalent, affecting up to 75% of adult patients suffering from depression. It is thought that roughly 20% of individuals who suffer from depression have obstructive sleep apnea, while approximately 15% have hypersomnia. During a single bout of sadness, many people with depression may switch between sleeplessness and hypersomnolence.

Sleep disorders might be a cause of depression by influencing the activity of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Sleep difficulties can disrupt the body’s stress response, disrupting circadian rhythms and increasing one’s risk of depression.

Fortunately, many people who get depression treatment report an enhanced quality of their sleep.

How is depression diagnosed?

Because depression is a medical condition that can only be diagnosed by a doctor, people who are experiencing symptoms of depression should talk to their doctor, counselor, or psychiatrist. They may inquire about the degree of the symptoms and how long they’ve been present. They might also recommend examinations to help them better understand your situation and track changes or improvements over time.

To evaluate if depression is caused by an underlying sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome, a health care professional may suggest that patients see a specialist in sleep disorders.


Depression is a serious medical condition that can manifest in many different ways. One of the most common depression symptoms is insomnia, which may be caused by underlying sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome. If you are experiencing depression and not getting enough quality rest at night, speak to your doctor about depression treatment options. There’s no need to suffer when there are treatments available for depression! It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been feeling this way; it’s never too late to make changes and get help with your mental health needs.


Is oversleeping related to depression?

Yes, hypersomnia is a common symptom of depression. Approximately 15% of people who suffer from depression have hypersomnia.

How does sleep benefit your mental health?

Sleep is important for mental health because it allows the brain to function properly. Sleep also plays an essential role in depression as well as stress reduction.

Is insomnia a symptom of major depressive disorder?

Yes, insomnia is one of the most common symptoms of depression. Up to 75% of adults with depression experience sleep difficulties.

How does mental illness affect sleep?

Mental illness can disrupt sleep in a few ways. It can cause people to have trouble falling asleep, wake up frequently during the night, or feel exhausted after getting only a few hours of sleep.

How do you fall asleep when you're SAD?

To fall asleep when you’re SAD, consider taking a hot bath, reading a book before bedtime, or meditating. You may also try to go to sleep at the same time each night and wake up at the same time every morning.

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