Sleep deprivation is a serious health problem, often contributing to depression. But the funny thing is, when you have depression to begin with, that might lead to insomnia. The two are closely related and they one can lead to the other.
Insomnia is the inability to sleep. You might lie down; you might feel tired, but your mind is going on and on and you just can’t shut the mind down enough to actually fall asleep. Or perhaps it’s not your thinking mind so much but just the inability to sink into a more relaxed state. Your mind isn’t letting you. One of the symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder is sleep disturbance, meaning that a person will either oversleep – hypersomnia – or they will not be able to sleep at all – insomnia. Now, this doesn’t mean that all cases of insomnia are because of depression, but only that one there’s a relationship between the two. And not all cases of depression will include an experience of insomnia.
Major Depressive Disorder is considered to be a medical illness that includes symptoms of persistent sadness, loss of interest in daily activities, occupational and educational impairment, along with eventual emotional and physical problems. Major Depressive Disorder usually requires long-term treatment, including psychotherapy and medication.
Now, there are various forms of depression. For instance, you might not be severely saddened or despondent, but you may have a lingering form of what is called, dysthymia. This is a milder form of depression, which can be with someone for years, even though they are fully functional in his or her life. Plus, researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center tracked the sleep habits of over 4,000 people for one year. What they found is a strong reciprocal relationship between sleep and the psychological health of adults. The study indicated that those adults that were already depressed were four times as likely to lose more sleep. These findings were published in the journal Sleep in February of this year.
Yet, whether your insomnia is related to depression or not, there are a few things you can do:
- Establish a sleep schedule. Although this might be difficult to establish at first, a person who goes to bed and rises at the same time every day might feel the difference in his or her mental health. Depression usually inhibits a regular sleep schedule; it will either cause little sleep or oversleeping. Yet, having a regular schedule can help with getting the right amount of rest. The reciprocal relationship between mental health and sleep indicates that establishing a sleep schedule can support those who are already depressed. In fact, one of the techniques of clinicians who find that medication is not working with depressed teens is to explore in detail their quality of sleep.
- Don’t watch TV or a movie right before bed. Sometimes the images and the experiences of what was just watched can stay with us, keeping us up at night. If sleeping continues to be a challenge, permanently remove the distractions in the bedroom such as a television or computer.
- Get enough exercise. The endorphins that are released during exercise can facilitate feeling good in general. Also, getting a good workout during the day can facilitate enough fatigue later in the day to help you fall asleep.
- Eat healthy. Healthy food can keep you in touch with the natural cycles of sleep and rest that your body needs.
- Laugh. It’s just good medicine.
And if these remedies aren’t successful, visit a mental health professional who can explore the specific cause of your insomnia and develop an appropriate treatment plan.