Lying wide awake in your bed, listening to the sound of the clock ticking away, a million thoughts racing through your mind and not a blink of sleep in sight; This is not an uncommon scenario for those who suffer from depression. They feel drowsy throughout the day, but when they decide to hit the bed, sleep disappears. Depression and sleep have a very complex relationship. Sleep issues may be the cause of depression or depression may be the cause of sleep issues. Some people experience depression before their sleep problems kick in whereas, some people experience depression after sleep problems occur. However, insomnia remains common among patients who have been diagnosed with clinical depression. Studies show that people who suffer from insomnia and other sleep related problems, have very high chances of suffering from depression as compared to those who sleep better.
It may have been perceived in the past that insomnia might be caused by depression, but recent studies are proving otherwise. It is now being suggested that insomnia and poor sleep quality might actually be the reason for depression. A study financed by the National Institution of Mental Health found compelling results highlighting the importance of sleep as a cure for depression. In this study1, 87% of the participating patients who got treated for insomnia also saw a decline in their depression symptoms.
The Treatment That Worked!
The studies which concluded that depression can be treated by treating insomnia included Biweekly CBT for four or more weeks. The treatment for depression targeting insomnia involved the following important steps:
- Getting the participants to sleep and wake up at the same time during the study.
- Making sure that the bed remains a work free zone.
- Less stimulation and rest before bed time.
These basic steps were the target for these individuals suffering from insomnia leading to depression. After following these steps, the participants reported a noticeable improvement.
How is Sleep Effective in Treating Depression?
Depression is known to slowly shut down normal physiological regeneration whereas sleep is known for helping the body regenerate. If there is lack of sleep or poor sleep quality, the regeneration process of the body is affected. The physical and mental state of the individual is also affected. This can be avoided by getting enough sleep to help your body rejuvenate and regenerate itself to avoid diving into depression.
How to Cure Your Depression through Sleep
Calm that Mind – you can start by using relaxation techniques or cognitive therapy to calm yourself before your slumber time. Visit your doctor to check if any of the medicines you are taking affect your sleep. You can also do some light relaxation exercises or take a warm bath. Sleep hygiene is also very important and it may help you snooze faster. Try to reduce tossing and turning in bed. Read a good bed time story. The environment of the room has to be sleep inducing as well, so that the body can prepare itself for a good night’s sleep.
Body Focus – the second main thing is to focus completely on your body. If there are thoughts and ideas fluttering through your mind during your bedtime, you need to get rid of them. Try going through somatic therapy techniques and breathing exercises to make it easier for you to fall asleep. Try focusing on your breath rather than your body. Start by drawing in breath slowly through your nose and slowly exit it through the mouth. This exercise will be responsible for slowing down your body and helping it to relax to the maximum. It will bring your heart rate down and help you stay calm. After a few breaths like this, start inhalation and exhalation through your nose and follow the rise and fall of your tummy. At this point, even if you are not snoozing, your body is still at rest.
It is quite evident that there does exist a very solid relationship between sleep disorders and depression and, that getting proper sleep can help fight off depression. In fact, a good night’s sleep may be the perfect cure for depression as it regenerates and rejuvenates the body making you feel happier, healthier and more productive than usual.
Eugene Gabriel is a passionate blogger. He has always been fascinated by sleep and how it relates to health and wellness. Read his website on Tips for Better Sleep. You can follow him on twitter @eugenegabrielj.