How Does Depression Affect Sleep?

The team of experts at Apex Medical Center understand that many conditions overlap and compound and impact your health in sometimes surprising ways. Two of the most closely connected conditions are depression and sleep issues. 

The association between depression and sleep is complicated, not entirely understood, and goes both directions. For example, if you have insomnia, you’re 10 times more likely to have depression than a person without insomnia. Conversely, problems with sleep are so common among those with depression that it’s sometimes a requisite for diagnosis. 

A chicken or egg problem

The connection between poor sleep and depression is complex enough that it may not be possible to determine which comes first. Poor sleep, whether due to insomnia or a condition like sleep apnea, can lead to depression, just as it’s associated with a host of other health problems. 

At the same time, if you have depression, you’re almost certain to also have some kind of problem getting enough quality sleep. And, less sleep worsens depression, which means you can fall into a vicious spiral of being unable to sleep and worsening depression. 

Discussing sleep problems

If you have depression, you should discuss any issues you have with sleep with your doctor. Although sleep and depression are often related and intertwined, it’s also possible for a sleep disorder to be a separate diagnosis and require different treatment from depression. 

For example, experts estimate that about 20% of people with depression have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA involves pauses in breathing while you’re asleep, often because the soft tissues at the back of your throat collapse and air can’t pass through. OSA can be a life-threatening condition, but there are effective treatments such as dental appliances or machines that deliver continuous positive air pressure, or CPAP machines. 

Treating depression may not solve sleep problems

It seems logical that treating depression could also help solve your sleep issues, but that isn’t always the case. And, if your sleep issues persist, you could relapse, or your treatment regimen for depression becomes less effective over time. 

Some of the actions that are likely to help with depression may also help with sleep problems. For example, cognitive behavioral therapy may be one approach to helping you have a more positive outlook when it comes to sleep. Exercise can help mitigate depression, and it may also help you sleep better. 

Tips for improving sleep

There are some things you can do that may improve your sleep. You should still discuss your situation with your doctor, just as you would discuss any symptoms of depression, but these tips may help. 

Sleep hygiene is important and often difficult in today’s busy, connected world. Good sleep hygiene is focused on creating an environment that encourages good sleep and building daily habits that can help you sleep better. 

For example, going to bed at the same time every night is a good habit to develop that promotes better sleep. Keeping your bedroom cooler can help, and so can building a bedtime routine that you follow consistently. Your own preferences and life dictate some parts of good sleep hygiene, but making sleep a priority and gradually adjusting your life around it are important factors. 

If you have been diagnosed with depression, or you suspect you have it, consider booking an appointment with one of our providers at Apex Medical Center. There are effective treatments for depression; it’s not something you just have to live with. Similarly, if you’re struggling to consistently get a good night’s sleep, schedule a visit at Apex Medical Center. 

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