How Can Sleepless Nights Result in Depression? Jasmine just moved to the city to work as a call center agent. She had no choice but to leave her family and friends in search of greener pastures. Just as Jasmine started her night shift duty, she also began developing homesickness. She could not bear living in a new environment away from her loved ones.
A few months passed, and her workmates noticed that Jasmine has been feeling lonely and sad. One of them suggested she visit a local therapy office. Heeding the call, she consulted a therapist, and to her surprise, she was already living in depression.
The therapist then explained that while her homesickness could be the root, it was her lack of sleep and nights without sleep that exacerbated the problem.
Cases like that of Jasmine shows how lack of sleep or sleepless nights can lead to depression. It sounds like a complicated interrelationship. But experts reveal that each can be either a result or a cause. Now, let’s delve more in-depth on the connection between sleep and depression.
Correlating Sleep Deprivation and Depression
A lot of studies have shown that sleep and health are closely related. Sleep deprivation can adversely impact your psychological health and mental state. That means, the more you spend sleepless nights, the more you become prone to insomnia and other sleep disorders. These could lead or worsen psychological and mental issues such as depression.
In America, the common sleep problem affects 60% to 85% of patients in normal psychiatric practice. For the general US population, though, around 10% to 18% are affected.
Traditionally, medical professionals viewed insomnia and other sleep disorders as consequences or symptoms. However, according to recent studies, sleep issues have drastically increased. It also shows a direct impact on the development of mental issues. To add up, the studies can be applied clinically since the remedy for sleep problems has been proposed as the same as treating symptoms of co-occurring psychiatric mental issues.
Until today, however, the scientific relationship between sleep and mental health is not yet fully understood. However, studies on neuroimaging and neurochemistry reveal that quality sleep helps promote mental and emotional resilience. On the other hand, sleepless nights lead to negative thinking and emotional instability.
Science Talks: Sleep and Mental Health
With those fundamentals, let’s now consider other key relations of sleep and mental health.
Studies have proved that 90 minutes of regular sleep can fall under two subcategories of sleep. It’s how long, or the length of time slept and how deep the sleep is.
During “the quiet” sleep category, a person undergoes four stages of progressing deep sleep. As the muscles relax and the body temperature drops, the heart rate and breathing also slow down. The maximum level of quiet sleep can generate physiological changes that remedy the functioning of the immune system.
The second sleep category is called the Rapid Eye Movement (REM). During this period, people often dream. There are proven changes in a persons’ temperature, heart rate and blood pressure that’s the same as when people are awake and put on the same situation as it on their dreams. Research shows that REM sleep boosts learning and memory. It also contributes to emotional health in sophisticated manners.
Although researchers are still trying to set clear distinctions between the mechanisms, they’ve revealed that sleep deprivation affects the level of neurotransmitters and stress hormones. That could lead to brain damage, impaired thinking, and emotional regulation. In this way, sleep disorders can amplify depression and other psychiatric disorders.
- Sleep problems can be a factor leading to the development of depression.
- Those with psychiatric issues are more vulnerable to sleepless nights and depression compared to the general population.
- Addressing sleep problems can help prevent the emergence of depression.
How Sleepless Deprivation leads to Depression
Therapists reveal that there are more than 70 types of sleep disorders. Among these are insomnia (difficulty catching and sustaining sleep); obstructive sleep apnea (irregular breathing that leads to multiple awakenings); various movement syndromes (unfavorable sensations that cause night fidgeting); and narcolepsy (extreme sleepiness or suddenly falling asleep during the day).
Based on psychiatric diagnosis, the types of sleep disorders, prevalence, and impact vary from one person to another. There is, however, a considerable overlap between sleep disorders and different psychiatric problems. As a result, scientists have long surmised that both types of problems may have common biological roots.
In the same manner, sleepless nights corroborate with depression.
One study utilized different methods and populations to confirm such a correlation. It showed that 65% to 90% of adult patients with major depression, and about 90% of children with this disorder, suffer from any of the sleep disorders. Additionally, most clients with depression have insomnia, and one in five of them have obstructive sleep apnea.
As mentioned earlier, clinical experts see depression as a causal factor of sleepless nights or insomnia and other sleep disorders.
But again, several studies reveal that insomnia and sleep issues increase the risk of developing depression.
For example, a Michigan health maintenance organization conducted a longitudinal study among 1000 adults who are aged 21 to 30 in 1989. Based on the results, those who shared a history of insomnia during the interview were four times more likely to develop major depression compared to normal sleepers. The full development would happen three years later.
In the same year, two longitudinal studies were conducted among young people. The first study involved 300 pairs of young twins, while the other study included 1,014 teenagers. Both pieces of research revealed that sleep problems developed before major depression did.
Unfortunately, the role of sleep deprivation to depression continues even during full development.
Essentially, insomnia and other sleep issues impact outcomes for patients struggling with depression. Research shows that depressed patients who continue to suffer from insomnia are less responsive to treatment than those without sleep problems. That indicates that lack of sleep does not only aggravate depression but makes hinders the effects of interventions.
Even patients whose mood got well with antidepressant therapy are more susceptible to a relapse of depression afterward. Studies have also shown that depressed patients experiencing insomnia or other sleep disturbances are more likely to contemplate suicide and die by suicide than depressed patients who are able to sleep normally. If you are thinking, do weighted blankets help with insomnia – yes it does and it’s backed up scientifically.
Now, if you notice that you have sleepless nights lately, better watch out. That may lead you to depression. For assurance, better consult a clinical expert to help you diagnose and cope with your situation. You might as well use a top-rated weighted blanket to sustain a normal sleep.