Why Depression Affects Your Sleep and Tips to Help

At a very basic level, sleep and depression are closely linked. Getting poor sleep can trigger or worsen depression and one of the first things to be affected by a depressive episode is quality of sleep. It makes sense then that getting the best rest possible is integral to treating depression.

How Depression May be Affecting Your Sleep

  1. Depression can cause or worsen sleep-disorders. There’s a lot of evidence to suggest that depression can cause Restless Leg Syndrome, sleep apnea and narcolepsy (among others). These disorders in-turn worsen sleep quality. If one can get the symptoms of these adjoining disorders under control and improve their sleep quality, chances are you will find some relief from depressive symptoms as well.

  2. On EEG tests, patients with depression are shown to have slower sleep latency, spend less time in deep sleep and have more trouble than most people staying asleep through the night.

  3. Scientists have learned that sufferers of depression have a completely different REM cycle than that of not affected patients. This REM cycle may disrupt the normal sleep cycles and cause the deep sleep periods to be disturbed. This deep sleep is responsible for hormone production and your body’s general maintenance.

How To Get Better Sleep When Suffering

  1. Try to get some physical activity, even if it’s just light walking. Sleep can suffer when you’re depressed because you’re less physically active than usual, and not getting rid of excess energy during the day. The beauty is that you don’t have to do much. Just an easy going walk will help you to be able to rest at night.

  2. Keep things light and simple at bedtime. Keep stressful thoughts at bay with a relaxing bedtime routine that might include meditation, deep breathing exercise or a bath. Try to keep your phone put away during this time, as the blue light it emits restricts melatonin in your brain and smartphones are proven to have negative effects on mental health.

  3. Don’t let yourself nap longer than 20-30 minutes during the day. If you feel drained and want to nap during the day, make sure you don’t let yourself sleep for too long. A 20 minute power-nap will make you feel energized for the rest of your day, give you the rest you’re craving and still keep your nighttime sleep schedule intact.

  4. Try to get outside. The sunlight you’ll get outdoors will keep your body’s natural rhythm of when to sleep/when to wake on track.

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