Sleep And Depression
Understanding the Relationship between Moods and Sleep

Sleep is an active state important for renewing our mental and physical health each day. More than 100 million Americans of all ages, however, regularly fail to get a good night’s sleep.

At least 84 disorders of sleeping and waking lead to a lowered quality of life and reduced personal health. They endanger public safety by contributing to traffic and industrial accidents. These disorders can lead to problems falling asleep, difficulties staying awake or staying with a regular sleep/wake cycle, sleepwalking, bedwetting, nightmares, and other problems that interfere with sleep. Some sleep disorders can be life threatening.

Do you have trouble sleeping at night? (Or, do you sleep too much during the day?)
While these problems may be caused by external factors (like noise, or light) or temporary stresses (like a new baby, or starting a new job), it is important to understand that these troubles may also be connected to your moods. In some cases, these sleep problems may be related to a condition called depression.

What Is Depression?
Depression is recognized as a condition that involves how our body functions, how we feel about ourselves and also how we respond to events in our lives. Trouble falling asleep and/or staying asleep are important features of depression.

Other symptoms may include:
  • Down or low moods, feeling sad nearly every day
  • Loss of interest or inability to experience pleasure in things that generally had been pleasurable before.
  • Sharp changes in weight, either significant weight loss or weight gain.
  • Loss of energy
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions.
  • Thoughts that life isn’t worth living, even to the point of actively considering suicide.
  • Anger outbursts, irritability, nervousness
If I Don't Sleep Well, Does That Mean I'm Depressed?
No, not necessarily. Depression is certainly one cause of sleep difficulties, but there are many others. For example, some people stop breathing over and over again during sleep. This is a condition called Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome (OSAS). This problem can arouse them often while sleeping, promoting day-time sleepiness. If you are tired, fatigued or sleepy during the day and snore frequently, you may want to find out if OSAS is causing your sleep problems.

Another condition, periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD) occurs when a person’s leg muscles twitch during sleep, causing him or her to sleep poorly. Sometimes, other parts of the body twitch as well. Lastly, it’s important that you realize that trouble sleeping (for any reason) can promote feelings of depression.

If Depression Is Causing My Sleep Problems, What Can I Do?
If your sleep problems are related to depression, the key to improving your sleep is treating the depression and using good sleep hygiene measures first. Many excellent treatments for depression are widely available. These include talk therapy (i.e., counseling, psychotherapy) and medication therapy, if necessary.

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