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Sleep Problems Associated With Depression

Sleep is an important part of our physical health. It also plays a major role in our mental health. However, people with depression often experience sleep problems. About 3 in 4 people with depression have trouble sleeping. Trouble sleeping can then impact depression and make it worse.1

What sleep problems are associated with depression?

Many conditions that impact sleep can make you more likely to develop depression. These include:1-3

  • Sleep apnea – A condition where your body stops and starts breathing repeatedly while sleeping. People with sleep apnea are 5 times more likely to have depression.
  • Insomnia – A condition that causes trouble falling or staying asleep. People with insomnia are 10 times more likely to develop depression. Some researchers believe early treatment of insomnia can prevent depression.
  • Anxiety – People with anxiety are also more likely to have sleep problems. Anxiety and depression are linked, and many people have both conditions.

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How does poor sleep impact depression?

Depression and poor sleep often happen together. This can create a negative loop where poor sleep worsens depression, and vice versa. Poor sleep can impact depression in several ways. Conditions that affect your sleep make you more likely to develop depression.1,2

Plus, poor sleep and feeling tired can make it hard to control your feelings. This might make you more irritable or feel even more down. This can lead to depression even months or years in the future. One study found that after a night of bad sleep, people had 30 percent lower moods the next day.1,2

How does depression impact your sleep?

Having depression can also impact your sleep in many ways. Some people may have trouble staying asleep. Some people may sleep too much. About 15 to 35 percent of people with depression sleep beyond recommended amounts.1,3

Other people with depression may stay asleep for a healthy amount of time but have worse-quality sleep. Research shows that depression also impacts the type of sleep we have.2,3

This or That

When do you typically have more energy?

REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and slow wave sleep (SWS) are 2 types of sleep that help your body and mind recover each night. People with depression can spend less time in SWS. They are also more likely to not have standard REM sleep patterns. These effects can make sleep feel less restful.2,3

It is also possible that one thing might trigger both sleep troubles and depression. Major life events can cause stress that makes sleeping difficult. These events can also cause depression to develop or worsen.3

Getting help for depression and sleep

You may need to treat sleep problems and depression separately. For example, depression can be treated with antidepressants. But the most common type of antidepressants, called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), do not directly treat sleep problems. Some antidepressants can even lower your quality of sleep.1,2

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For these reasons, you may also need treatment for sleep problems. Sleep apnea may require treatment with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device. Insomnia may need treatment with therapy or different types of medicine.1

Talk to your doctor if you have concerns about your sleep. This might include trouble falling asleep or feeling tired during the day. You should also mention if other factors impact your sleep, such as pain or signs of sleep apnea.1

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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