How Does Depression Affect Sleep?

Depression affects millions of people and depression and sleep issues can go hand-in-hand. Of the more than 16 million people who suffer from depression, over 75% have some form of a sleep disorder. Here we’ll discuss the complex relationship between sleep and depression.

Depression and Sleep

Depression and sleep are connected in interesting ways. Depression symptoms can affect your sleep, and sleep disorder symptoms like sleep apnea or insomnia can lead to depression. Learn more about various forms of depression, such as Major Depressive Disorder and Persistent Depressive Disorder.

How Does Depression Affect Insomnia?

It’s well known that insomnia is a common symptom of depression, but research increasingly shows that the connection between depression and insomnia is a two-way street. A 1997 study found that insomnia and hypersomnia were connected to a higher rate of suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Insomnia increases your risk of developing depression by 10 times. A 2006 study of nearly 25,000 people drew a clear link between depression and getting too little sleep (less than six hours), as well as too much sleep (more than eight hours).

How Does Depression Affect Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is also linked to depression. A 2003 Study of nearly 19,000 participants found that depression increased the risk of developing a sleep disorder with breathing symptoms by five times. A review in 2009 noted that anywhere from 21-41% of people being treated for sleep apnea also showed depression symptoms. Symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Loud snoring
  • Breathing cessation while sleeping that causes you to wake up
  • Attention problems
  • Morning headaches
  • Sore or dry throat upon waking
  • Irritability
  • Excessive tiredness during the day

Tips for a Better Sleep

If you’re dealing with depression and are experiencing sleep problems, here are some things you can do to help get a better night’s sleep:

  • Eat a healthy diet. Try to include regular servings of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean meats to better maintain your overall health.
  • Exercise. Get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day and try to make a routine out of going on walks, running, or going to the gym.
  • Set a bedtime and wake-up routine. Having a consistent sleep schedule can help reduce the symptoms of depression and sleep disorders.
  • Limit your time online and social media. Too much news and other information from social media can make you feel overwhelmed. Keep your use to a minimum, especially right before going to bed.
  • Meditate. Close your eyes, clear your mind, and breathe slowly in and out when you’re feeling stressed or depressed.
  • Stay in touch with your friends and family. Having strong personal connections can help reduce the effects of depression, which can help you sleep better.

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When to See a Doctor

If you’re suffering from depression or sleep problems, it’s important to seek professional help if you’re experiencing one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Constant sadness for entire days lasting more than two weeks
  • Suicidal thoughts or doing things to hurt yourself 
  • Abdominal pain, aches, or digestive problems that don’t respond to treatments
  • Consistent inability to focus, concentrate or remember things clearly
  • Waking up suddenly gasping for air or having trouble catching your breath
  • Persistent headaches
  • Feeling anxious or irritated
  • Feeling abnormally sleepy during the day
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Abnormal swelling in your legs

Getting a good night’s sleep is an important step towards dealing with your depression. Learn more about sleep disorders such as insomnia and sleep apnea from Baptist Health.

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