How To Help Someone With Depression Sleep?

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Q: My husband is suffering from bipolar depression due to which he is unable to take a good night’s sleep from last few months. Is it possible for me to help him? Is sleep problems and depression are related to each other? What should I do now?
Expert Answer

Depressed people often find it difficult to sleep due to wandering thoughts surrounding their conditions. Others frequently wake up in the middle of the night and hardly get back to sleep. It is typical for people with depression to wake up very early in the morning without having adequate rest. The effects of lack of enough sleep reflect at work place where one has difficulties in carrying out their tasks at ease coupled by frequent naps.

Why is Sleep so Important?

How To Help Someone With Depression Sleep?

Have you ever stayed awake up to the weird hours of the morning? How does the day start and ends? The importance of adequate sleep is to give your brain and body time to rest. If you fail to get enough sleep, your efficiency the next day is altered. Some crucial processes that occur during sleep recharge your body and gets it better equipped for the next day. You will be more cautious while driving or going about your tasks the following day. While sleeping, depressed people’s thoughts about their worries and problems are kept at a distance. Sleep deprivation increases risky and suicidal thoughts in depressed people.

What is Insomnia?

Insomnia is a condition in which one finds it hard to fall asleep and remain asleep. It encompasses a wide range of sleeping disorders including lack of quantity and quality sleep. Insomnia is put in three different categories. If you fail to get enough sleep for some days to a few weeks, your condition is referred to as transient insomnia. Acute or short-term insomnia occurs when sleeping becomes a problem for several weeks. Chronic insomnia is characterized by lack of sleep for several months or years. Insomnia can affect every person regardless of age or gender. However, reports indicate that insomnia is more common among adult females as compared to men.

What is The Link Between Sleep Disorders and Depression?

Depression and insomnia occurs simultaneously in a person. Statistics show that 80% of patients with depression also suffer from insomnia with only 15% sleeping too much. If you have persistent insomnia, you are three times more likely to become depressed. According to Michael L. Perlis, MD and an associate professor of psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania, insomnia was regarded as a symptoms of depression. Michael says that patients who underwent depression treatment also recovered from insomnia. Research shows that when both depression and insomnia were treated individually, it took doctors lesser time and effort to improve patients’ moods, sleep problems and overall wellbeing. Others studies revealed that if depressed people develop insomnia, their chances of getting recurrent depression are higher than those without insomnia.

Treatments for Sleep Disorders and Depression

Insomnia can either be treated through medications or behavioral therapy. Medications helps a patient take less time to sleep and to stay asleep. Cognitive behavioral therapies target patients’ thoughts around sleep. Research shows that treating insomnia in depressed patients eases the symptoms of depression and reduces the risks of its recurrence. Psychotherapy and use of antidepressants are the most common treatment options for depression and insomnia. Half of patients treated for insomnia through psychotherapy report improvements in moods. Other studies show that depressed patients who have insomnia while treated with a combination of antidepressants and psychotherapy, show significant improvements than those treated with antidepressants alone. Although there are higher chances of insomnia recurrence if treated with medications, doctors recommend their use in patients who are very anxious to sleep. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is highly recommended as it is a skill one learns and has lesser complications.

Are There Other Sleep Tips That Can Help Depression?

  • Turn off electronics during bed time
  • Make your bed comfortable
  • Avoid naps during the day
  • Avoid stimulants such as coffee and alcohol during bedtime
  • Have a routine time to bed and time to wake
  • Don’t go to bed hungry
  • Avoid and manage stress


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