Feeling sad now and again is a fundamental part of being human, especially during difficult or trying times. In contrast, persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, hopelessness, and disinterest in things that were once enjoyed are symptoms of depression. Depression is not a mood swing that can be ignored or simply willed away. It’s a serious disorder that affects how someone eats, sleeps, feels, and thinks. The relationship between sleep and depression is complicated; depression may cause sleep problems, and sleep problems may cause or contribute to depression. The good news is that there some ways to help yourself get a good night’s sleep, so sleeping with depression doesn’t have to be a nightmare.
What Causes Depression?
Depression affects about one in ten people at some point in their lives, and can affect men and women, young and old.1 Sometimes there’s a trigger, such as trauma experienced in childhood, life-changing events, bereavement, losing your job, or even having a baby. People with a family history of depression are more likely to experience it themselves, but you can also be depressed for no obvious reason.
Symptoms of depression can vary from person to person, but there are some common symptoms, including:
- Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and sadness
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Loss of interest in things that you normally enjoy
- Low self-esteem
- Difficulty concentrating
- Loss of libido
- Changes in weight and appetite
- Daytime sleepiness
- Loss of energy
Depression can also be accompanied by physical symptoms, such as back pain, headaches, and gastrointestinal problems. Sleeping with depression can mean getting very little sleep, so it’s best to consult a doctor if you have any of the symptoms mentioned below.
Tips for Getting A Good Night’s Sleep
Depression can be stressful and exhausting, especially when you find it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. However, there are some ways sleeping with depression can be made a little easier.
Talk to someone you trust. A problem shared is a problem halved. It might feel hard to start talking about how you feel, especially if you’re worried that people won’t understand, but sharing your thoughts and worries can help you feel better.
Try mindfulness. Mindfulness is a great way to bring your full attention to the present moment, with some studies showing that practising mindfulness can help to manage depression. Read more about mindfulness and its benefits here.
Exercise. Experiencing depression can make you feel like you have no energy to look after yourself. However, taking steps towards looking after your physical health can make a big difference. Regular exercise is good for both your physical and mental health. It provides an outlet for frustrations and released mood-enhancing endorphins. Limit your workouts to mornings and afternoons. You can read more about how exercise helps improve your sleep in our article, ‘Five Ways Exercise Helps You Sleep’.
Think about your diet. Eating regularly and keeping your blood sugar stable can make a difference to your mood and energy levels.
Look after your hygiene. It’s easy for hygiene to not feel like a priority when you’re experiencing depression. However, small things, like taking a shower and getting fully dressed even if you’re staying in the house, can make a massive difference to how you feel.
Avoid drugs and alcohol. In the long run, drugs and alcohol can make you feel worse. They can also prevent you from dealing with underlying problems and caring for yourself properly.
Establish a regular, relaxing bedtime routine. Avoid stimulants like coffee, chocolate, and nicotine before going to sleep. Never watch TV, use the computer, or look at your phone or emails before going to bed. Read a book for an hour before going to sleep.
Have a good sleeping environment. Make sure your bedroom is cool, dark, and quiet. You could use a fan to drown out excess noise, and check that your mattress and pillows are comfortable.
Consider a weighted blanket. The extra weight offered by these blankets can create a sense of security, and they may help calm or comfort restless or stressed individuals. You can browse our selection of weighted blankets here – it’s recommended that you choose one that’s about 10% of your overall weight.
Although these are some ways to help yourself get a good night’s sleep, it is important that you consult your doctor if you think you may be depressed. Many people wait a long time before seeking help, as they may feel embarrassed, but there is nothing to be embarrassed about. The sooner you see a doctor, the sooner you can be on the way to recovery – and a good night’s sleep.