Sleep is one of the most natural processes of life. It helps to repair the body, rejuvenate the mind and keep us alert and refreshed for the tasks ahead. But this intricate part of life can be disrupted by depression.
Keep reading to find out how depression can affect your sleep.
What does depression do to sleep?
Sleep is not just one continuous process; it has different stages and sub-stages. The two broad stages of sleep are REM (Rapid Eye Movement) and NREM (Non-Rapid Eye Movement). The body undergoes different changes in each of these stages. Of the two, the NREM is crucial for restful sleep.
There is a substage of NREM sleep called the restorative slow wave sleep, which brings about rest, relaxation and restoration of the body and mind. In depression, the amount of time spent in this restful phase is shortened due to complex processes. Therefore, people with depression have complaints of not feeling rested even after hours of sleep. In addition to this, depression can cause other major changes in sleeping patterns.
How depression can change sleep
Insomnia loosely refers to sleeping difficulty. People with depression often have one or more of these complaints:
- Difficulty falling asleep at night
- Waking up often (difficulty maintaining sleep)
- Waking up too early and being unable to go back to bed.
Although many people may assume that depression makes people want to sleep more (to forget their worries and deal with depressive emotions), depression actually causes more insomnia than oversleeping.
Instead of the lack of sleep in insomnia, there is oversleeping in hypersomnia. This may be the only sleep change in certain individuals with depression. Only about 15% of depressed people oversleep (insomnia is more common in depression). Oversleeping in depression can cause excessive sleep at the night and even during the day.
3. Poor quality of sleep
Whether insomnia or hypersomnia is experienced, the quality of sleep in depression is generally poor. This is due to the reduction in the restorative slow-wave sleep, as explained earlier.
The effect of sleep on depression
Do you know that the relationship between sleep and depression is bi-directional? Depression affects sleep, and sleep equally affects depression.
It has been shown that getting insufficient quality sleep can increase the risk of depression. According to Harvard Medicine, 15 to 20 per cent of people diagnosed with insomnia will develop major depression”. Other studies also claim that lack of good sleep puts people at a 5-fold risk of developing depression.
Prolonged poor sleep not only causes depression, but it can also worsen already established depression. Therefore, addressing sleep is vital in the treatment of depression.
Tips to improve sleep in depression
- Get treatment for your depression and sleep problems. You don’t have to endure, seek help.
- Incorporate exercise into your routine. Getting at least 150 minutes of exercise every week will not only keep you fit, but it will also improve your mood and help you sleep better. You don’t have to hit the gym for high-impact workouts, a simple walk around your neighborhood can do the trick.
- Maintain good sleep hygiene. Check this out- Sleep hygiene: 10 Tips for Better Sleep
Depression is a wide topic that goes beyond sleep. Want to know more about Depression? Join us this Friday, March 10, 2023, at 5pm (WAT) as we invite a psychiatrist to spill the tea about depression. Spread the word and come prepared. It will be interesting and educative!
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