Can a Good Night's Sleep Beat Depression?
by Mark Rosenberg, M.D.
The Surprising Link Between Insomnia and Depression

Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. During our mid-life years the
chances of experiencing an episode of depression nearly doubles. Even mild cases
can interfere with one's ability to function normally at work, maintain a home and
interact socially.

Over 90% of depression patients suffer from either insomnia (inability to sleep) or
hypersomnia (excessive sleep). For a long time, many experts believed insomnia
was caused by depression. But new drugs designed to treat depression proved
depression could be improved without relieving the patient's insomnia.

New studies have dramatically changed the way researchers understand the link
between insomnia and depression. These studies conclude insomnia is frequently the
cause of depression instead of the other way around. For example, elderly patients
with insomnia but no history of depression were found to be 6 times more likely to
be diagnosed with an initial episode of depression than patients without insomnia.
Those at highest risk for first-time depression suffer from severe "middle insomnia,"
where you wake up frequently through the night then eventually go back to sleep
each time.

By correcting sleep disorders, patients recover significantly faster from depression.
One study found depressed patients able to sleep well were 11 times more likely to
have recovered within 6 months than those with insomnia. Improved sleep also
reduces the likelihood of remission. Two-thirds of patients with persistent insomnia
relapse into depression within a year of discontinuing antidepressants while only 10%
of those with good sleep do.

Clearly sleeping well is critical for dealing with depression. While most studies focus on
patients suffering from major depression, those suffering from milder forms will likely
benefit from a similar focus on improving sleeping habits.

Quick Tips for Getting a Better Night's Rest

If you or someone you love is one of the nearly 18 million Americans battling
depression each year I have some good news for you. You probably don't have to
resort to addictive sleeping pills to get the rest you need. Instead I'll share with you
some of my best tips on beating insomnia so you can safely and easily get the 7-8
hours of uninterrupted sleep you need for optimum health.

Sleeping Environment

Start by sleeping on the right mattress. Choose a fully supportive mattress with just
enough softness to allow you to wake up refreshed, not sore. Pillow placement
should keep your head and neck in a straight line. Always keep your room as dark as
possible while sleeping. If you absolutely must fall asleep with a radio or television on,
use its sleep timer. Dress for bed in comfortable, loose fitting clothes. Your goal is to
be comfortably warm, not too hot or too cold.

Sleeping Schedule

Get into a routine. Get up at the same time every day, even on weekends. Avoid
naps during the day. If needed, keep naps to 15-20 minutes long. Avoid drinking for
an hour before bedtime to avoid waking from a full bladder. Exercise or other
physical activity during the day, at least an hour before bedtime, helps you achieve a
deeper, more restful sleep. Limit yourself to the equivalent of 3 cups of coffee a day,
avoiding caffeinated drinks including hot cocoa and soda near bedtime.

Sleeping Supplements

Try late night snacks like milk, turkey, ice cream, yogurt, or peanuts an hour before
bed. These all have high levels of tryptophan which help your body produce the
serotonin needed to relax and prepare your body for sleep. Some natural herbal
supplements have a long track record as non-habit forming sleep aids.
Passionflowers, Valerian root and American Skullcap leaves are a few which have
been used for centuries to safely and effectively treat anxiety and insomnia.

Wrapping Up Depression

If you or someone you know has thoughts of suicide or is in crisis, please seek help
immediately by calling 911 or visiting a nearby emergency department.

Remember, depression is a treatable illness. While every case of depression may not
be overcome with sleep alone, getting proper rest will certainly help. Exercise and
maintaining a proper diet also play an important role. Whether you suffer from
depression or not, you will always enjoy better health by sleeping well, exercising
regularly, and eating the right foods.

About The Author

Mark Rosenberg, M.D.

Institute For Healthy Aging

Everyone has days where they feel
down in the dumps. But when feelings
of sadness, anger or frustration
become so overwhelming they
interfere with your daily activities you
could fall into depression. While sleep
disorders have long been associated
with depression, recent research on
this link has changed the way the
medical community views the cause
of depression. Today I'm going to
share the latest research and tell you
how to use this new information to
fight depression - or even prevent it
Copyright ©
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The content on
this website is for educational purposes only.  Please consult with your physician before using natural
remedies and before making any drastic changes to your diet or exercise
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