Sleep And Depression: How Sleep Problems Affect Depression
Having depression and being unable to sleep properly is frustrating. Beyond that, it can make things worse. People with depression and sleep difficulties also are prone to
- Cognitive problems
- Physical problems
Its still unknown whether problems like insomnia or hypersomnia make existing depression more severe because study results are mixed. Out of the lab and into the world, some people have more intense depression symptoms when their sleep is off. Others find that sleep difficulties are annoying but dont affect their symptoms.
This points out the fact that depression and sleep are both individualized experiences. Everyone is unique with their own biology, personality traits, and genetics. Your own experiences arent wrong. And whatever they are, they can be treated.
The Relationship Between Depression And Sleep
We know that depression and sleep are strongly linked, but which one comes first? Does depression cause sleep problems, or do sleep problems cause depression? The two are so closely linked that each one can contribute to the other. Some research has indicated that depression and sleep may share risk factors as well as biological features, making them rise and fall together .
Johns Hopkins researchers have linked insomnia to depression via the emotions. When someone suffers from lack of sleep, they have a more difficult time regulating their emotions. Their overall emotional resiliencethe buffer of positive emotions that allows people to deal with stressdeteriorates, leaving them vulnerable to depression.
Other biological factors unite sleep problems and depression. Seasonal affective disorder , or seasonal depression, is largely caused by the low light levels of fall and winter. These lower light levels alter the bodys natural circadian rhythms, throwing off our sleep patterns and contributing to SAD.
Depression is connected to both too much sleep and too little sleep . Regardless of the cause or nature of your sleep problems , sleep problems negatively impact depression.
What Problems Might I Have With Sleep
Everyone needs sleep, but many of us have problems with it. You might recognise some of the experiences listed below, or have other difficulties with sleep that aren’t mentioned here.
- find it hard to fall asleep, stay asleep or wake up earlier than you’d like to
- have problems that disturb your sleep, such as panic attacks, flashbacks, nightmares or psychosis
- find it hard to wake up or get out of bed
- often feel tired or sleepy this could be because you’re not sleeping enough, not getting good quality sleep or because of health problems
- sleep a lot which could include sleeping at times when you want, or need, to be awake.
“When I get depressed, I sleep so much at its worst it was 18 hours a day, because it was the only way that I could stop thinking and stop my mind from saying awful things to me.”
If you’re having problems sleeping, you might:
- be more likely to feel anxious, depressed or suicidal
- be more likely to have psychotic episodes poor sleep can trigger mania, psychosis or paranoia, or make existing symptoms worse
- feel lonely or isolated for example, if you don’t have the energy to see people or they don’t seem to understand
- struggle to concentrate, or make plans and decisions
- feel irritable or not have energy to do things
- have problems with day to day life for example, at work or with family and friends
- be more affected by other health problems, including mental health problems.
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Sleep Deprivation Depression And Anxiety: Depressed Or Exhausted
Usually, its pretty obvious when youre sleep deprived.
Your body feels like it weighs a tone and keeping your eyelids open is more of a challenge than you realised before. You might find it hard to concentrate, and at the same time, your emotions can feel a little overwhelming, with small problems feeling more significant than they used to.
The symptoms of depression and sleep deprivation are often very similar. Thats why if youre both sleep-deprived and depressed at the same time, your doctor will often recommend getting your sleep back on track before doing anything else.
However, there are a few differences between sleep deprivation and depression that are worth noting.
When youre sleep deprived, youre exhausted. Your appetite will usually be higher than usual, while your libido and mood starts to drop. On the other hand, when youre depressed, youre likely to have trouble falling asleep, a lack of energy, and feelings of hopelessness.
Because depression can often cause sleep deprivation , and sleep deprivation can cause low mood , the lines between both experiences often blur.
The Relationship Between Sleep And Mental Health
Its no secret that sleep plays an important role in good physical and mental health. Sleep deprivation can leave you feeling irritable and exhausted in the short-term, but it can also have serious long-term health consequences as well. Lack of sleep is linked to a number of unfavorable health consequences including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and depression.
Some psychiatric conditions can cause sleep problems, and sleep disturbances can also exacerbate the symptoms of many mental conditions including depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.
Research suggests that the relationship between sleep and mental health is complex. While sleep has long been known to be a consequence of many psychiatric conditions, more recent views suggest that sleep can also play a causal role in both the development and maintenance of different mental health problems.
In other words, sleep problems can lead to changes in mental health, but mental health conditions can also worsen problems with sleep. Lack of sleep may trigger the onset of certain psychological conditions, although researchers are not completely certain of the underlying reasons for this. Because of this circular relationship between your sleep patterns and your mental state, it is important to talk to your doctor if you are having problems falling or staying asleep.
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Lack Of Sleep And Your Thought Process
Sleep deprivation makes it more difficult to think and concentrate. People who dont get enough sleep are more likely to become forgetful and have trouble making decisions. They may be less productive at work or school. Slower reaction times can impact coordination and increase the risk of accidents.
Can Sleep Deprivation Cure Depression
It seems pretty likely that sleep deprivation could significantly increase your chances of suffering from depression, anxiety, and other emotional issues.
However, theres also another school of thought emerging in this landscape too. In the story of sleep deprivation and depression, scientists are looking into whether one could actually help the other.
When you consider the fact that depression is often linked to disrupted sleep cycles, and that sleep problems can raise your chances of depression, its hard to imagine how reducing your sleep would be a positive thing.
However, researchers are beginning to see again and again that sleep restriction therapy may be beneficial for both insomnia and depression.
According to a massive new meta-analysis, published through the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, it could be a good idea to suggest sleep deprivation as an acute treatment for depression.
The study looked at 2,000 pieces of research on the topic and learned that the overall response to sleep deprivation was a 45% improvement in depression.
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What Is Clinical Depression And Why Is Sleep So Important
Clinical depression is diagnosed as a mood disorder. Depression makes you feel sad, hopeless, helpless, and worthless. While it is normal for everyone to feel sad and hopeless from time to time, but when you suffer from depression, this feeling of sadness is more intense and more prolonged. It may feel like you are in a bad mood or feeling sad all the time. There will also be other associated physical symptoms of depression that will prevent you from living a normal life.
Normal sleep is important for all humans. Normal sleep is said to the restorative state of the body. That means that your body undertakes the process of fixing any wear and tear that happens during the day. Having poor sleep can cause fatigue. When you experience fatigue, you tend to skip exercising, leading to a decline in your level of fitness. After a while, you will find yourself in a vicious cycle of disturbed sleep pattern and inactivity, leading to both mood-related and other physical symptoms.
Attention And Working Memory
Among the possible physical consequences of sleep deprivation, deficits in attention and working memory are perhaps the most important such lapses in mundane routines can lead to unfortunate results, from forgetting ingredients while cooking to missing a sentence while taking notes. Performing tasks that require attention appears to be correlated with number of hours of sleep received each night, declining as a function of hours of sleep deprivation. Working memory is tested by methods such as choice-reaction time tasks.
The attentional lapses also extend into more critical domains in which the consequences can be life-or-death car crashes and industrial disasters can result from inattentiveness attributable to sleep deprivation. To empirically measure the magnitude of attention deficits, researchers typically employ the psychomotor vigilance task which requires the subject to press a button in response to a light at random intervals. Failure to press the button in response to the stimulus is recorded as an error, attributable to the microsleeps that occur as a product of sleep deprivation.
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Stay Alert For Signs Of Depression
These include feeling hopeless, helpless or sad trouble concentrating and remembering things loss of energy daytime sleepiness loss of interest in activities that once gave you pleasure or thoughts of suicide or death. Tell your doctor if you have any of these.
This is especially important if youre discussing insomnia with your doctor. Insomnia may be a separate condition or it may be a symptom of depression, Finan explains. Your doctor needs to know as much as possible to treat the right problem.
A Sign Of Atypical Depression
Dr. Drerup says that oversleeping is a symptom in 15% of people with depression and she notes that it tends to more often be related to atypical depression.
Atypical depression is a specific type of depression in which the persons mood can improve in response to a positive event. But even though their mood may brighten, its only temporary and the root depression remains.
Often, they dont realize theyre depressed, Dr. Drerup adds. Besides oversleeping, other symptoms are increased appetite and interpersonal sensitivity, like the feeling of being rejected. And that depression feeds into other reasons sleep can be so greatly affected.
Less Engagement In Activities
Chronic fatigue from sleep deprivation not only affects your drive to workout, but also affects your energy for engaging in other things that make you feel happy. These are generally hobbies and other non-work, non-school activities, such as any number of creative pursuits. A lack of energy may morph into a lack of interest which is a common symptom of depression.
Tips For Creating Healthy Sleep Habits And Improving Sleep
- Try to keep a consistent sleep schedule, waking up around the same time even on weekends.
- Set a bedtime that is early enough for you to get at least 7 hours of sleep. However, dont go to bed unless you are sleepy.
- Establish a relaxing bedtime routine that helps to transition from your day.
- If youre having trouble falling asleep, dont lie in bed awake. If you cant get to sleep, get out of bed, and do something relaxing until you feel tired.
- Create a healthy sleep environment avoid bright lights and loud sounds, keep the room at a comfortable cool temperature, and try to limit electronics in your bedroom.
- Exercise regularly .
- Avoid caffeine and nicotine late in the day and limit alcoholic drinks before bed.
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Does Depression Affect Your Sleep
The effect that depression has on sleep is well-documented . One of the most common symptoms of depression is sleep disturbance. Up to 70 percent of people with depression have some sort of sleep disturbance. This can take the form of either:
- Insomnia. This sleep disorder makes it difficult to fall sleep or stay asleep for long periods of time.
- Hypersomnia. Also called excessive daytime sleepiness , hypersomnia causes you to feel abnormally sleepy throughout the day, even if youve gotten plenty of sleep.
Changes In Sleep And Depression
Short and shallow: In addition to getting less total sleep, persons with major depression have less slow-wave deep sleep. This is a deep part of sleep thought to be important in the restorative properties of sleep.
Fragmented: There are many brief arousals during the night. Sometimes these are so short that a person doesnt remember the individual events, while others are long awakenings disrupting the night. This is important because the continuity of sleep continuous sleep without interruptions may be as important to feeling refreshed as the total amount of sleep one gets.
REM sleep phenomena: REM sleep, during which most dreaming occurs, and which may be involved in memory processing, emotional balance and many other activities, changes during depression. During REM sleep, as its name indicates, there are rapid movements of the eyes. In depression, these are particularly intense during the first REM episode of the night . Typically, the first REM episode occurs about 90-110 minutes after sleep onset. In depressed persons, however, it often appears much earlier, often 60-80 minutes after falling asleep. This has led some researchers to believe that there are abnormalities of the bodys rhythms which may potentially play a role in depression.
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Get Back To Healthy Sleep
People who snore or have sleep apnea often dont realize they have a problem unless someone tells them. Theyre asleep after all! If youd like to find out if snoring or sleep apnea might be causing your fatigue and depression, take my on-line sleep disorder questionnaire. Who doesnt want to sleep well and wake up refreshed?
If you have tried various depression and sleep apnea treatments with no success, consider visiting your dentist about specialized sleep disorder dentistry.
Exploring various treatment options with your dentist could be the answer. Todays advanced technology opens new doors in treatments related to sleep disorders. Common symptoms shared by depression and sleep apnea may be alleviated with a personalized treatment plan developed by your dentist.
Please call to schedule an appointment with Dr. Nehawandian today.
Altering Sleep As A Treatment Of Depression
Interestingly, it has been found that purposefully keeping a depressed person up all night may result in a rapid improvement in mood, which may be as effective than most antidepressants. Later work indicated that similar results could be found by partial sleep deprivation or, as we mentioned earlier, by selectively depriving a person of REM sleep. These treatments are not very practical, and also have limitations , but they make an interesting point: sleep disturbances may not just be a result of depression, but in addition some dysfunction of sleep mechanisms may be involved in the genesis of depression. Exploring this two-way relationship is an ongoing and active area of sleep research, which holds the promise of finding new ways to understand depression.
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Mistimed Rem Sleep Is Linked To Depression
A more helpful way to understand the sleep disturbances that people with depression experience is to think of their sleep cycle as being somewhat âshiftedâ.
As a result of this âshiftâ REM sleep appears to be experienced earlier in the night and consequently, the sleeper gets less restorative slow-wave sleep during their time in bed.
The disruption to the timing of REM sleep appears to lead to mood disturbances like depression because it reduces their opportunity to get that restorative slow-wave sleep.
Now that weâve explained a little about how sleep and depression are linked, letâs consider what options there are for someone living with depression to improve their sleep.
Columbia Psychologist Explains Why Poor Sleep Makes It More Difficult To Cope With Stress And Regulate Emotions
Americans were having trouble sleeping before COVID-19. Unfortunately, it only got worse when the pandemic isolated us from friends and family, closed our schools and offices, and sent shock waves through the economy.
According to a study of 22,330 adults from 13 countries published in Sleep Medicine in November 2021, one in three participants, had clinical insomnia symptoms and nearly 20 percent met the criteria for insomnia disorderrates more than double what they were before the pandemic. Furthermore, sleep disturbances were linked to higher levels of psychological distress. Anxiety and depression rates were also considerably higher than pre-pandemic levels in the same survey.
Just like our electronics need to be charged, sleep may recharge or reset the brain to optimize functioning, says Elizabeth Blake Zakarin, an assistant professor of psychology and a clinical psychologist at the Columbia University Clinic for Anxiety and Related Disorders.
Columbia Psychiatry News spoke with Zakarin about the psychological impact of sleep deprivation, challenges brought on by the pandemic, the influence of food on our sleep patterns, and effective treatments for sleep difficulties.
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Can Insomnia Cause Depression
Getting enough quality sleep every night is important in maintaining good health1 so you can awaken your best.
When you get sufficient sleep, your body and mind have plenty of time to relax, restore and heal, which gives you more energy to stay awake throughout the day, as well as helps you to look and feel great.
Unfortunately, when you suffer from insomnia, the habitual inability to sleep can diminish your sleep quality which may takes its toll on your physical well-being as well as your mental health too. It may even disturb your partner throughout the night as well.
The best way to begin reclaiming sufficient restful sleep is to start by educating yourself knowledge is power after all! So here is some general information about the link between a lack of sleep and depression, and what you can do to take action.