New Research Points To A Simple Strategy That Sleep Helps Lower Depression

People suffering from depression most often find it difficult to fall asleep. In fact, up to three-quarters of patients with depression complain of insomnia which is the inability of a person to fall and stay asleep.

Sleep problems can make matters worse for someone who is suffering from depression. 

Understanding the relationship between sleep and depression is a vital step in boosting the quality of life and can help you manage depression better. 

What Is Depression?

People who are not well informed about mental health disorders often ask the question, “what is depression exactly”? 

In essence, depression is a common yet serious medical illness that affects how you feel, think, and act.

Man sitting on stairs listening to music.

Depression can negatively impact your life, but fortunately, for the most part, it is a treatable illness. You may describe it as having feelings of sadness, loss, and anger that interfere with the person’s daily life. 

Symptoms of depression include:

  • Feelings of sadness 
  • Lost of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Changes in appetite 
  • Trouble sleeping 
  • Difficulty thinking
  • Dark thoughts such as those of death or suicide

According to the Anxiety And Depression Association Of America, major depressive episodes are estimated to affect about 16.1 million adults in the US any given year. 

According to The American Psychiatric Association, one in six people experience depression at least once in their life. It mostly occurs from the late teens to mid-20s, and women are more likely to experience the illness than men.

There’s also a higher chance that a person might suffer from depression if it runs in the family. 

The Link between sleep and mental health is a well-known but complex relationship. Sleeping disorders do not directly cause depression, but a shortage of sleep definitely plays a big role. 

According to one study, a chronic shortage of sleep, whether due to personal issues or illnesses, can worsen depression.

Conversely, it stands to reason that improving the quality and duration of sleep can help lower depression. 

Many people with depression often have sleeping troubles, but the presentation is not always the same.

Some people have trouble going to sleep, while others have trouble staying asleep. A few people even find themselves sleeping way too much. 

Poor sleeping habits can also create difficulties in processing your emotions and makes you vulnerable to depression in the future. 

Depression and sleep have a bidirectional relationship. It means lack of sleep can contribute to depression and that makes the person more likely to develop sleep issues. 

Sleep issues related to depression include insomnia, hypersomnia, etc. With insomnia being the most common sleep disorder.

It’s also no secret that lack of sleep can affect your mood and productivity throughout the day. In addition, depression and sleep disturbances can affect your physical health as well if left untreated.

A study in 2011 showed that people that have insomnia have a two times higher risk of falling into depression in the future compared to those people who don’t suffer from sleep deprivation. 

Therefore, understanding the relationship between insomnia and depression can help you pinpoint risks early.

Getting the right kind of help early on if you have insomnia can help decrease the chances of developing depression in the future.

How to Sleep Better

Well, now that you know how there is a link between sleep and depression, you might be wondering what things you could do to sleep better and better protect yourself against depression.

The tips mentioned below should help you sleep better.

Make Your Bedroom More Cosy

The way you keep your bedroom says a lot about your sleeping habits. There’s also a lot you can do inside the room to sleep better. For example, make sure not to have too much noise or light in your bedroom as it can make it hard to fall asleep.

You want your room to be as dark as possible to sleep better, so investing in blackout curtains would be a good idea. 

Your mattress should also be comfortable and not too old because it’s always difficult to sleep on an old saggy mattress or bed that makes squeaky noises when you lay on it. 

If you can’t sleep even after making your bedroom a zenful heaven on earth, you can try switching rooms and doing something else until you finally feel like sleeping.

This way, your mind will start to think of your bedroom as a place solely for sleeping and not for procrastination.

Keep a Regular Bedtime 

Having a regular sleeping schedule can also help a lot. However, it is easier said than done. 

Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day will help you have a routine. As a result, you will wake up easily and be energized and focused in the morning. 

Keeping a consistent bedtime is just as important as how long a person sleeps. It’s because our brains respond well to timetables and having the same routines. 

Additionally, try to avoid unplanned and long naps during the day as they may also interfere with your ability to fall asleep at night.

If you find it too difficult to keep your eyes open during the day, you could try small but effective power naps.

These naps should last 10 to 25 minutes so they are short enough not to interfere with falling asleep at night.

Exercise Daily

Someone walking on a path.

Regular physical activity such as walking or running improves your mood and helps in stress management, but it also helps you get better quality sleep.

Additionally, exercise releases endorphins that are the body’s very own antidepressants—this helps improve your mood and lower depression.

Therefore, start exercising regularly to get better quality sleep and take care of your mental and physical health.

Depression and Stress Management 

Another factor that can cause depression is stress. Stress is the body’s response to emotional demands. A stressful situation can trigger feelings of depression which can be difficult to handle while dealing with stress. 

Losing a family member, divorce, and getting fired from a job are all causes of stress and can lead to depression.

Although depression is a very serious form of mental illness, it is luckily somewhat curable through therapy, antidepressants, and general stress management. 

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The Final Verdict

Hopefully, this article has shed some light and cleared some confusion about the link between sleep and depression. 

Living with depression and sleep disorders can be difficult at times, and it’s always better to incorporate healthy sleeping practices to help cope with depression.

However, it’s not a bad idea to ask for help if you ever need it. Therefore, don’t stay silent and always ask for professional help if your depression is getting too severe.

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