The Depression/Sleep Connection
Most of us know if we don’t get enough zzzz’s we’re likely to wake in the morning feeling anything but chipper. But new research points to a more potent connection: People with depression have sleep/wake disturbances similar to those seen in people suffering from jet lag or lack of sleep. And depressed people are also more vulnerable to jet lag and sleep deprivation. The reason? It turns out depression makes it more difficult to reset the circadian clock – our natural 24- hour daily cycle.
The leader of the research study, Roseanne Armitage, Ph.D., a University of Michigan professor of psychiatry who directs their Sleep and Chronophysiology Lab, points out further connections: disturbances in sleep and circadian rhythms can also be a predictor of depression. In fact, there’s evidence that people with insomnia have a ten-fold risk of developing depression compared with those who sleep well. In fact, if you’re at a risk for depression, just cutting your sleep time by a bit will have a bigger impact than it would if you were not feeling down.
Depressed individuals may suffer from a range of insomnia symptoms, including difficulty falling asleep (sleep onset insomnia), difficulty staying asleep (sleep maintenance insomnia), un-refreshing sleep, and daytime sleepiness.
What does this mean for people who are suffering with the blues and having sleep problems? The research suggests that treating depression alone without addressing sleep problem is not enough.