It isn’t a rare case for doctors to ask a person, who is being evaluated for depression, about their sleep patterns. There’s a reason why. Someone with clinical depression may show signs of insomnia, disturbed sleep, and even oversleeping. By the same token, a person who has trouble sleeping affects his or her overall mood, which sometimes goes to the extent of depression. In simple words, both depression and sleep are often interrelated, hence creating a chain-reaction.
Depression and its symptoms
According to the CDC, there is an estimated 7% of Americans who have moderate to severe depression. The symptoms of depression are loss of interest, insomnia, lower energy, suicidal thoughts, difficulty concentrating, lower libido, decreased self-esteem, and extreme daytime sleepiness. In addition, they also experience feelings of sadness or hopelessness, at the same time weight gain or loss. The occurrence and severity of these symptoms, however, depend per individual.
Types of Depression
There are different types of depression, each with their respective sleep issues. Count the Major Depressive Disorder as one. This is a severe form of depression that is associated with excessive daytime sleepiness and insomnia. Along with that, there is also the milder type called dysthymia. It is linked with hypersomnia and fragmented sleep.
Bipolar Disorder is another type that is characterized by extreme shifts in mood. A person with this kind of depression oversleeps when their mood is low. When their mood is high, however, they are likely to be unable to sleep. Lastly, the Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) commonly occurs during the winter months and is accompanied by symptoms such as insomnia and hypersomnia.
People who are at risk for depression
Depression may be triggered by death or loss, stress, and the discovery of illness. Middle-aged adults and women are reported to be more affected by depression. They are also the same groups who are most probable to experience insomnia.
How Depression and Sleep are tied together
Depression and sleep problems are closely related. For the most part, depression can result in a lack of sleep, which may spiral into either insomnia or hypersomnia. However, sleep deprivation may also heighten your risk of depression. As one article in the Journal Sleep revealed, the chances of children with insomnia and hypersomnia may be increased. The same can be said for sleep-deprived teens.
How REM Sleep gets affected
People with depression are reported to have longer sleep latency. They usually have their first rapid eye movement REM sleep earlier at night than those who are not depressed. Also, they go through a shorter time in slow-wave sleep as well as sleep maintenance insomnia. Scientists have reported that people with major depressive disorder have low activity in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex section of the brain. This may shed a light on why the activity in the REM heightens in depressed individuals.
This is a sleep disorder that causes a person to have difficulty falling or staying asleep. It has been noted that the chances of people having depression are ten times more probable for people with insomnia.
On the other hand, the type of disorder that causes people to sleep excessively is hypersomnia. Contrary to insomnia, this condition makes it difficult for a person to stay awake during the day time. Over 40% of young adults with depression have hypersomnia.
A study involving 19,000 people found that those who were depressed were 5 times more likely to experience obstructive sleep apnea. On another note, people with apnea have higher risks of depression. This is a condition where a person who is asleep momentarily stops breathing.
Restless Leg Syndrome
This causes an extreme urge to move the lower legs while lying down as a result of pins-and-needles kind of sensation. As an effect, this makes it difficult for people to sleep, worsening it to insomnia and depression.
Different treatments for Sleep Disorders
There are several methods of treatment that alleviate sleep disorders caused by depression. Some of them are detailed below.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that opens new ways of thinking by allowing a person to acknowledge his or her destructive thoughts.
This is a sub-type of CBT that helps treat insomnia without medication. Although the process is particularly long, it is done through conditioning sleep techniques that provide long-lasting results.
Antidepressants offer ease for people with sleeping problems like insomnia. Currently, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most popular antidepressant medications.
The effectiveness of light therapy for the seasonal affective disorder has been proven countless times. This kind of therapy comes in light boxes, which exposes 10,000 lux of bright light, as well as lamps, wearable visors, and so on.
A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device is beneficial for people with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Other than that, it also helps treat depression and insomnia.
For people seeking relief from insomnia, exercise is a good activity to practice regularly. It encourages more time in deep sleep at the same time decreases sleep latency times. Doing either moderate or intense physical activities helps release endorphins which are responsible for boosting your pleasure and well-being. Aside from that, exercise also promotes nerve cell growth in the hippocampus, thus helping a person’s mood regulation.
This is another option to assist you in falling and staying asleep. CBD oil has been revealed to produce a soothing effect on a number of problems. Included are insomnia, chronic pain, anxiety, and depression. It is derived from the hemp plant; however, it doesn’t have the high-inducing element called THC found in marijuana.
Recommended Actions to get better sleep with depression
While you’re still in the process of receiving treatment for depression and sleep disorders, below are tips that can help you. Try them on a regular basis to see improvements.
Record everything with a sleep journal
It’s best to write things down so you can give your doctor a clearer picture of what you’re going through. Put into account the time you retire to bed and when you wake up. Also, keep a tab on the duration of your sleep and the time it takes you to fall asleep. Don’t miss any important detail. If you can, jot down your thoughts, diet, mood changes, and libido.
Make your bedroom a heavenly retreat
Have no room for anything else in bed. A separate room to watch television or chit chat will do good. It’s as if you’re entering a place where noise and distractions don’t exist. So, once you step inside your oasis, otherwise known as your bedroom, you’ll be safe from electronics or any social activities. If possible, choose relaxing mattresses and blackout curtains.
Maintain the same sleeping and waking time
Practicing your body to go to bed at the same time helps a lot. Even if you can’t sleep directly, stick to your sleep routine. Your mind will eventually adapt if you stay consistent. Of course, you have to wake up at the same time, too. Keep it tight even during weekends. Even though napping is helpful, try to prevent yourself from doing so.
Follow a bedtime ritual
Going to bed with a worrisome mind will only make things worse. Instead of allowing your mind to spiral aimlessly, practice relaxation techniques. You may meditate, indulge in a warm bath, or do deep breathing exercises. If exhausting thoughts persist, get your diary and put it all down on paper. You can also light some sleep-friendly candles to give you a sense of calm.
Bask in a healthy amount of sunshine
Getting your daily dose of sunlight promotes energy during the day time. It prevents you from getting tired and allows you to get things done before night comes. You can try exercising outdoors or stay anywhere near where you can feel the rays of the sun. So when the night falls, your brain will naturally make out that it’s about time to take a rest from a day’s highly-spirited toil.
Say yes to healthy foods, say no to stimulants
If you’re serious about sleeping well, shy away from alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, or any stimulating substances. These will prevent you from sleeping early. It may also disturb you in the middle of your sleep. Do your utmost to supplement your diet with foods that raise your health. Consume only those that boost healthy energy levels, not too high or too low.
Do relaxing activities after waking up
It’s not a guarantee that you’ll be able to get an undisturbed sleep immediately. You’ll still experience annoying disruptions from time to time. Instead of worrying, keep calm, and do the relaxation techniques you’ve done before sleeping. Read a book, do meditation, or deep breathing. Keep things steady until you gradually fall asleep.
Depression and sleep disorders are intertwined. If left unchecked, problems in either the two could morph into other serious health diseases. Hence, it is paramount to look into your health by getting immediate professional help.