The Link Between Sleep and Depression

Depression and sleep

If you’ve spent countless days tossing and turning and feel like there’s no end in sight for your sleeplessness, you could be dealing with insomnia that’s tied to depression. If you can’t sleep at night and suffer from insomnia, it could very well lead to depression. The majority of people dealing with depression report also dealing with insomnia. [1]

If you suffer from depression, you could very well experience insomnia as a side effect of that disorder.[2] Problems falling asleep and staying asleep originate in a variety of different causes, but one of the most prevalent is the presence of depression or anxiety. According to Harvard Health Publications, depression has many possible causes, including faulty mood regulation by the brain, genetic vulnerability, stressful life events, medications, and medical problems that can lead to a chemical imbalance that causes life-altering behavioral changes.[3]

What is insomnia?

This classification of insomnia into primary and secondary types is an important step to take before trying to figure out what causes insomnia. The cause of secondary insomnia is presumed to be the underlying health condition to which it’s connected — a list that commonly includes depression, along with other conditions like arthritis, asthma, headache disorders, gastrointestinal disorders and stroke. However, primary insomnia causes are a bit harder to pin down. Because insomnia affects so many different types of people and occurs in such a large segment of the population, it can be tough to determine specific causes. The factors that cause insomnia can vary depending on your unique body type, age, lifestyle and other factors.[4] The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) suggests that life changes may serve as a primary insomnia cause. The NHLBI says insomnia may be due to major or long-lasting stress or emotional upset. They also say travel or other factors, such as stressful work schedules, can disrupt your sleep routine and may trigger primary insomnia.”[5]

How is insomnia related to depression?

Insomnia is often a side effect of medications used to treat other conditions, including heart problems, depression, and arthritis.[6] Research has found that the three conditions have very close ties. Most temporary medical conditions serve as a shock to the body, which needs time to adjust to changes. As such, seeking treatment for an underlying condition, like depression, will most likely improve a person’s insomnia.[7]

If you think you may be suffering from insomnia, and your symptoms last for longer than one month, you may need to consult a medical doctor or a sleep center for help with your chronic insomnia so that it doesn’t begin to alter the brain and cause depression.[8] A trained sleep specialist will take you through your options for temporarily treating insomnia. Several techniques are available to help you conquer your sleeplessness. Your doctor may recommend cognitive behavior therapy or sleep hygiene training. They may also provide you with techniques for relaxation therapy. If those options don’t work, they may prescribe medical and hormone therapy, prescription sleep aids and over-the-counter remedies.[9]

Treating chronic insomnia related to depression can take time and effort. However, with proper diligence (and perhaps the help of a sleep professional), the symptoms of insomnia can be significantly reduced so that you can enjoy life to its fullest.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This