Insomnia: Can Getting Sleep Reduce Depression?

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Insomnia = Depression?

I have always been a night owl. Without fail, I’d stay up way too late and often not by choice. Insomnia has been a big part of most, if not, all of my life. People who can just fall asleep with ease have always baffled me. I mean, they lie down and within 5 minutes or less they’re totally OUT! I have no idea what that feels like and have a doctor’s prescribed medication that helps me fall asleep at night. Those of us with true chronic and life long insomnia can wake up at 5 am, run a marathon, remain busy from morning until night, maybe even solve all the world’s problems and still can’t fall asleep at night.

And no, insomnia is not always related to overthinking. Those with persistent insomnia are three times more likely to develop depression.[1] According to the National Sleep Foundation, depression among insomnia sufferers is higher compared to those who can snooze with ease:

Insomnia is very common among depressed patients.  Evidence suggests that people with insomnia have a ten-fold risk of developing depression compared with those who sleep well. Depressed individuals may suffer from a range of insomnia symptoms, including difficulty falling asleep (sleep onset insomnia), difficulty staying asleep (sleep maintenance insomnia), unrefreshing sleep, and daytime sleepiness.”

There are things you can do to help reduce chances of insomnia.

Good Sleep Hygiene:[2]

  • Minimize the amount of caffeine you drink during the day. If you’re like me and you need your coffee, have it in the morning and avoid the temptation to drink caffeine late in the day.
  • Exercise daily, but not too late at night because it might act as a stimulant. If I exercise too late at night I find myself “wired” and unable to sleep.
  • Speaking of stimulants, you’re not supposed to be on the computer, smart phone, or any gadget when you’re getting ready for bed. I’m guilty of not following this rule. But, the screen is supposed to keep your brain stimulated and that’s what you don’t want when attempting to get a good night sleep.
  • Napping during the afternoon might reduce the chances of being able to fall asleep at night. You might want to minimize this.
  • 1-2 hours before bed, try getting off all electronic devices and stop watching TV. Read a book instead.
  • Make sure your bedroom is a good sleeping environment void of stress or stimulants. So, it’s probably not a good idea to have a TV in your bedroom if you suffer from insomnia.
  • If you can’t fall asleep within 20 minutes, experts say it’s best to get out of bed and go back to bed when you are actually tired.

The Bottom Line:

Like I’ve always said, everyone’s body is different and that especially relates to the way our brains are wired. It’s no surprise that depression is linked to those who suffer from insomnia. This is why it’s important to do what you can to reduce any chances of making your insomnia worse and getting the help you need. Yes, that means medication if you need it. Why suffer sleepless nights and increase chances of depression reducing your ability to live a productive life? Like I said, I’m not an organic-living snob. Some people take things way too far. They take this gluten-free thing to an entirely new level. They go nuts if you don’t recycle everything. They condemn anyone that drinks a glass of milk because dairy is bad for you. They’ll lecture you about all the flesh eating pesticides you’re injecting into your body when you don’t eat organic foods. Hey folks, the list goes on and on. Extreme can be bad, even if you’re extreme about health. There’s even something called orthorexia[3], which is a psychological disorder defined by a fixation on healthy eating.

The point is moderation is key and that means being balanced with your lifestyle choices and schools of thought. Getting good sleep can only help your productivity. So, if all else fails and all the organic remedies don’t work. There’s nothing wrong with seeing a sleep specialist or your doctor to get the treatment you need.



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[1] http://www.webmd.com/depression/features/sleep-problems

[2] http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/getting/overcoming/tips

[3] https://www.livinghealthy.com/articles/can-you-overdo-healthy

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