You spend about a third of your entire life asleep. Most often we sleep about eight hours a day, although there are those among us who need four hours to get enough sleep. Sleep is important for the proper functioning of many body functions, including mental ones. There are several possible reasons for its violation. Depression is one of them.
Lack of sleep makes depression worse and vice versa
The relationship between depression and poor sleep can be two-way. Sleep disturbance is one of the possible manifestations of already developed depression; on the other hand, prolonged lack of sleep can aggravate depression as such or even contribute to its development. For some people, mood drops and other depressive symptoms appear long before sleep problems, while for others, insomnia is the onset of mental problems.
Sleep long and get up early
According to experts, people with insomnia are ten times more likely to develop depression than those with good sleep. For people with depression, sleep problems are very common, with four out of five patients. However, they can take many forms. Depression can lead to:
- Difficulty falling asleep (it may take a person several hours to fall asleep)
- violation of the so-called general picture of sleep (sleep of a shallower and lower quality);
- sleep disturbance (repeated awakenings occur during the night);
- Premature waking in the morning and inability to fall asleep again (usually waking up at about four in the morning);
- increased need for sleep.
Sleep hygiene rules
Sleep disorders associated with depression require treatment. It is true that the earlier you go to bed, the better for your overall mental health. Sleep can be positively affected in several ways, and you can also use a combination of different methods. First of all, you must follow the rules of the so-called sleep hygiene:
• If you need naps, limit it to a maximum of half an hour.
• Avoid stimulants like nicotine or caffeine before bed.
• Do not use alcohol to induce sleep, as it degrades sleep quality in the second half of the night and exacerbates anxiety and depression.
• Spend at least 10 minutes a day doing aerobic exercise (such as brisk walking or cycling).
• Do not eat before bed.
• Encourage healthy alternation of the sleep-wake cycle by exposing yourself to adequate daytime sunlight and reducing the amount of light during the night.
• Count on regular sleep patterns (go to bed around the same time, take a relaxing bath, and do other calming treatments).
• Try to avoid activities that may unnecessarily activate you before bed (working on the computer, watching an exciting movie, annoying conversation, etc.).
• Provide a pleasant environment in the bedroom suitable for sleeping (the room should be quiet, dark and ventilated, the temperature is fairly cool, the mattress is of sufficient quality).
Psychotherapy and antidepressants
If a depressive disorder is causing your sleep disorder, treatment is appropriate. The standard treatment is a visit to a psychotherapist or the use of so-called psychotropic drugs. When it comes to antidepressants, it is best to consult your doctor in more detail. His choice is determined by the specific manifestations of depression in you. In the case of insomnia, antidepressants can be successfully used, which have a positive effect on both well-being and sleep. In some cases, you can try a variety of soothing teas or natural products to complement your treatment. However, it is important to discuss their suitability and safety with your doctor or pharmacist beforehand.