Guest Post- The Connection Between Insomnia And Depression
July 5, 2017
Sarah from sleepydeep.com reached out to me a few weeks ago asking if she would be able to submit a guest blog post for emilyrosemassey.com regarding sleeping problems and depression. Since I have experiences with these issues and have shared a lot on my blog how insomnia and depression has affected my life, I was extremely excited to have Sarah share! Please welcome Sarah!
The Connection Between Insomnia And Depression
We all have had sleepless nights. We’ve all had dips in our emotional state. Insomnia and depression are different from your run of the mill all-nighter or post break up blues. They are actual psychological disorders. You may have heard that a symptom of depression is sleeping a lot, and you heard that correctly. But did you realize that there is actually a correlation between insomnia and depression?
Insomnia is a serious sleep disorder that negatively affects your life. WebMD defines insomnia as: “a sleep disorder that is characterized by difficulty falling and/or staying asleep.” A study performed by the University of North Texas on the Epidemiology of insomnia, depression, and anxiety found that people with insomnia are 10x more likely to develop depression.
When you have insomnia, you might feel tired but are unable to settle down and go to sleep. Trying to sleep when you want to, but can’t, can be mind-numbingly frustrating. I personally believe it’s best to just get out of bed and do something else. You aren’t doing yourself any favors by lying in bed in the dark anyway. You might as well get up and drink some tea or read an uplifting book. Try to do a relaxing activity to get your mind off how badly you need to rest before you have to get up early the next morning.
The Vicious Cycle of Insomnia and Depression
Insomnia and depression can become a vicious cycle that is hard to break out of; each causing the effects of the other to worsen. To say that a lack of sleep can have negative effects on your mood is barely scratching the surface. Not to mention that when you have a mood disorder such as depression, this in turn, can have a negative effects on your natural sleeping rhythm.
Feeling down for a prolonged period of time can have detrimental effects on all of your daily activities. An unfortunate symptom of depression causes us to have racing negative thoughts. These are bombarding us constantly at night while we’re trying to lay down and fall asleep. Even though we’re exhausted this can severely inhibit our sleeping patterns.
Racing Thoughts Make For An Uncomfortable Bed
I know that when I went through a bout of depression a few years ago, I began to procrastinate going to bed at night. I dreaded the thought of being trapped alone with these racing thoughts in the dark quiet of my room. I would distract myself with television or play games and surf the web on my tablet before bed. The blue light emitted from these devices causes your brain to halt the process of producing melatonin, the hormone that tells your mind and body it is time to sleep.
Poor Sleep = Poor Performance
Insomnia may cause you to sleep late and miss out on the morning time; which can be a great time of day to sit in quiet meditation or a quick morning workout to get your endorphins pumping. It’s hard to feel good about yourself if you don’t get out of bed until 12 noon every day. If you are waking up too late and missing work or your appointments, this can add to the list of frustrations and grievances you have with yourself, contributing to this self-sabotaging cycle of insomnia and depression.
REM Sleep Promotes Optimal Mental Health
At night, we go through different stages of sleep, it has become common knowledge that when we dream, we are in our deepest stage of REM sleep (rapid eye movement). Anecdotally, it is believed that dreaming can help our subconscious mind deal with our daily reality, helping us to sort through some of our depression without us having to do anything at all, but simply go to sleep.
In a research study on Depression and sleep: pathophysiology and treatment, doctors found that REM sleep helps to increase your brain’s functional release of serotonin and other “feel-good” hormones. Anti-depressants are thought to work by inhibiting your brain’s serotonin reuptake receptors. So, if you can regulate your serotonin levels by getting quality deep sleep, then all the better, right?
This Too, Shall Pass
Although both depression and insomnia are serious disorders of the mind, it is helpful to note that it won’t last forever. However you choose to deal with your depression, make sure you have someone to talk to. Even if it’s just a supportive internet forum, sharing your thoughts and feelings in a safe environment makes a huge difference. If this advice seems cliché that is because clichés, like sarcasm, have a ring of truth to them.
Disclaimer – I am not saying that if you cure your insomnia, your symptoms of depression will automatically be cured. Please make sure you always talk with your physician and therapist about new decisions, and never stop taking your medication without speaking to your doctor first.
Have you ever battled with depression or insomnia? Did you ever correlate the two together or did you, like me, believe these were separate entities? Do you think that this information will help you to manage your emotional state going forward, making high quality rest a priority?