Depression is a mood disorder, where one feels sad, helpless, and hopeless mostly along with the loss of interest in work or hobbies, disturbed sleep, poor appetite and lack of energy. Sure, we all feel the sad time to time. But clinical depression is when you feel sad for at least 2 weeks continuously and these feelings become more intense and its associated symptoms create barriers in living your normal life.
To begin with, sleep difficulty is one of the most common symptoms of Depression. Both Depression and sleep difficulties share the same pathways in the brain, and both are related to a disruption of body rhythms. Either it can over sleepiness or it can be the lack of sleep. Let’s talk about the lack of sleep here.
Is Depression stealing your sleep?
In Depression, one is likely to experience difficulty in falling and/or staying asleep. There is a very strong association between sleep disturbance and Major Depression. Some research work also suggests that a diagnosis of Depression in the absence of sleep complaints should be made with caution.
Moreover, maybe the reason why depressed patients seek help is actually that lack of sleep is getting too tiring for them.In fact, it is one of the few proven risk factors for suicide.Disturbed sleep is a very distressing symptom which has a huge impact on quality of life of patients. It also makes the person irritable.There is, therefore, a need for more successful management of sleep disturbance in depression.
How to Deal With It?
Along with Psychotherapy, the following strategies will help you sleep:
- Practicing Relaxation: First and foremost, learning relaxation techniques like progressive muscular relaxation, mindfulness, meditation, deep breathing and practicing it every day reduces over all stress level.
- Going out in morning sunlight every day: This helps in getting back the circadian rhythm or sleep-wake cycle.
- Exercise: It reduces fatigue and improves alertness and mood. It circulates endorphins into the body which may cause difficulty initiating sleep.
- Have a quiet and comfortable sleeping environment: Next, set your bedroom at a comfortable temperature. Turn off the TV and other unnecessary noise that may disturb your sleep. Your bedroom should be dark as well.
- Sleep routine: Going to bed at the same time nightly will help train your body to know when it is meant to fall asleep.
- Get up if you can’t sleep: Don’t just lie in bed staring at the ceiling — get out of bed and do a quiet activity for a while until you feel tired. You can make a list of activities that need to you must complete the next day. Tell yourself that you will think about it tomorrow.
- Avoid afternoon naps, caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol: Alcohol may help you fall asleep, but it will keep you from staying asleep.
- Bed as a cue for sleep: Finally, don’t lie in bed tossing and turning or don’t lie on the bed to watch TV or read. Use the bed only for sleeping and sexual activity. This way, your bed becomes a cue for sleeping, not for lying awake.
We may thus conclude that you can take various steps to get a good night’s sleep. The recommendations mentioned above will help you get into a routine that promotes good sleep opportunities. If you miss any of them or had a bad night, do not panic, just keep following the routine. With continuous practice, there will be a definite improvement in the sleep quality.
Beck, A.T., and Greenberg, R. L. (1974). Coping with Depression. USA.
Benca RM., Obermeyer WH., Thisted RA., Gillin JC. Sleep and psychiatric disorders: a meta-analysis. Arch Gen Psych. 1992;49:651–670. [Pubmed]