Depression and Sleep
The connection between sleep and depression is common in many personal relationships: it is complex. Bad mood can interfere with the quality of sleep, and in turn a difficult evening can make it hard to cope with the tasks and requirements of the following day. Which condition precedes the other is unclear and there is room for change. The relationship between sleep and mood makes it difficult to understand cause and effect, so focusing on both areas is key to maximizing improvement.
Sleep and emotional regulation
Getting a good rest helps us regulate our emotions. Poor sleep leads to easy ignition of our emotions and to more intense reactions to negative situations. By default, we use automatic behavior that requires less cognitive reasoning, which tends to be more selfish and biased.
Poor sleep negatively affects attention and concentration, so we are more impulsive and less likely to understand social cues when we haven't slept enough. It is more difficult for us to be precise in reading faces, we participate in more conflicts, and we are less empathetic to others. When we do not get adequate sleep, our emotional intelligence suffers and this negatively affects our ability to get along well with others.
Sleep, loneliness and social isolation
Loneliness and social isolation increase mortality and as such are important markers of health. A person who does not sleep well is less likely to engage with others. There is a natural reflex to withdraw and this distance subsequently makes the person less attractive to others, so they often fail to reach him. Loneliness creates stress and anxiety, which contribute to further sleep disturbances. This creates a cycle that intensifies.
Talk to a specialist about your mood
Depression can affect millions of adults each year, and 1 in 6 people will experience symptoms of depression throughout their lives. A good indicator that it's time to talk about your mood with your doctor is if you feel lethargic, sad, or hopeless for more than two weeks and have lost interest in activities you used to enjoy. The specialist will make a detailed history of your mood disorders, including how this has affected your energy, sleep, appetite, self-esteem, concentration and activity level.
Talk to your doctor about your sleep
The problem of sleep (both insufficient or too much of it) is a sign of depression. If you are not happy with your sleep, share it with your doctor. Keep a sleep diary before your visit so you have accurate information to share. Sleep disorders put you at greater risk of mood swings and can have a big impact on your well-being. Find a sleep specialist who can help you assess, diagnose and manage these conditions.
- Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition in which blocked airways cause you to have trouble breathing. People with apnea are five times more likely to develop depression. Common symptoms of sleep apnea are snoring, waking up, shortness of breath or suffocation, dry mouth, daytime sleepiness, changes in mood or comprehension, morning headache, restless sleep or insomnia.
- Narcolepsy is a chronic neurological condition characterized by instability during sleep and wakefulness and excessive daytime sleepiness. People with narcolepsy are at greater risk of mood disorders.
- Restless legs syndrome fragments and disturbs sleep, and the degree of depression increases with its severity.
- Insomnia can increase the chances of developing depression tenfold. Often, patients who have difficulty falling asleep or can't sleep for long seek treatment with prescription drugs, alcohol, or some other "quick fix."
There are no medications that can contribute to a healthy sleep. Sleeping pills have serious side effects, especially in terms of cognitive abilities and mental health. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can help with depression, and the specialized version of the therapy for insomnia is the treatment recommended for long-term insomnia problems.
Treatment of depression is more successful when the quality and duration of sleep are stable. Seek professional help on both issues, but to increase your chances of success, work on these four habits that have been shown to improve both sleep and mood:
- Exercise regularly
- Receive plenty of outside light, especially in the morning
- Follow a regimen
- Practice meditation
Poor sleep negatively affects relationships, social life and connectivity and often coexists with symptoms of depression. Sleep and mood are mutual and should be treated together for best results.