The Link Between Poor Sleep and Depression
People need at least eight hours of sleep every night in order to function at their best both physically and mentally. Our brains and bodies need that time to rest and recover so that they can operate in their healthiest state. Unfortunately the average American only gets about 6.9 hours of sleep a night and many people get much less.
Lack of sleep not only leads to fatigue, it is closely linked to issues with depression. People with depression tend to have trouble sleeping and that lack of rest can perpetuate many of their symptoms. Without adequate sleep it can be very difficult to handle and overcome depression and your health is likely to worsen in other respects as well.
For a person suffering from both sleep problems and depression, it is important to treat both issues as they can influence one another and create more problems when combined. A patient with depression will need to sleep more in order to feel better and reducing the symptoms of their depression can also help with insomnia. The good news is that improving sleep can significantly improve many mental health problems.
Causes and Symptoms of Insomnia
One of the most common sleep problems that people experience is having trouble falling asleep and staying asleep the whole night. Insomnia affects nearly one out of every three adults at some point in their life. People with insomnia might lay awake most of the night or wake up very early and find it hard to fall asleep again.
Insomnia can have different causes depending on the individual but it is often related to stress or occasionally a traumatic event. People with anxiety or depression may have a hard time sleeping because they have worried thoughts and tension that keeps them awake. Some may experience short term insomnia that lasts for week while others may have long term, chronic insomnia which can last for months.
People with insomnia tend to feel tired during the day, have trouble paying attention or focusing and may begin to feel irritable and depressed. In spite of their lack of energy they may still have trouble falling asleep because of stress and worry. Their worries about sleep can cause a cycle of sleeplessness and depression that becomes difficult to escape.
Sleep Deprivation and Mental Health
Whether a person’s insomnia is a cause or symptom of their depression or anxiety, their mental health is closely connected to their sleep habits. Issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety tend to disrupt sleep. Poor sleeping habits such as waking up too early are one of the most commonly identified symptoms of depression.
Although lack of sleep in itself does not cause depression, it can definitely play a role in declining health and worsen symptoms of mental illness. When someone cannot sleep over a long period of time it may become an important clue that they have clinical depression. Their feelings of sadness and hopeless can influence their ability to sleep and perpetuate their stress.
Sleep is a crucial element of mental health because it is a natural restorative state that allows people to relax and even work through their feelings. Dreams are a way that help people process emotions and problems that they have during the day. Sleep allows people to release tension, stress and irritability that may build up so that they can essentially reset and start the morning new.
Without regular sleep, emotional problems can escalate as the individual does not have the opportunity to fully refresh and restore their body and mind. Sleep deprivation can be devastating to a person’s well-being and it is important to address sleep and other aspects of their health as they work on improving a mental illness like depression. With proper treatment and care it is possible for someone to recover both from sleep issues and mental health problems.
Improving Sleep and Depression
It is crucial for someone with depression to focus on their complete well-being on a daily basis. That means eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise and sleeping at least eight hours every day. Improving diet and exercise as well as techniques like meditation and deep breathing can help reduce stress which in turn can minimize sleep problems.
It is difficult to focus on reducing depression symptoms if a patient is still suffering from insomnia. Better sleep habits will make it possible for them to think more clearly and feel more relaxed overall. Fortunately the combination of a healthy lifestyle as well as regular psychotherapy sessions can help make it easier for them to sleep 8 hours a night.
While having both insomnia and depression can be a complex issue, it is possible to recover from both by developing better habits and getting professional treatment. If you are suffering from sleep deprivation and depression contact a treatment center or therapist in your area for help.