Monday 30 January 2017

Sleeping Tips for People with Depression

Eugene talks about how treating sleep problems may be able to help certain people who suffer with depression.  
- Eugene 

It’s pretty normal that we all go through occasional feelings of grief and sadness. In fact it's a fundamental human emotion which occurs in reaction to loss, life’s struggles and its ups and downs. But going through persistent feelings of intense sadness, hopelessness and worthlessness for weeks and even months and not taking interest in things that once seemed enjoyable are clear symptoms of depression.

Depression is becoming a common problem. According to the National Sleep Foundation, depression affects nearly 20 million Americans. It affects our mood, health, performance but most importantly our sleep. Because sleeping too much or sleeping too little is considered a symptom of depression. However, only 15% of all people suffering from depression are reported to oversleep, whereas 80% report suffering from insomnia and it’s easy to understand why. When you have feelings of loss or guilt it can interrupt your sleep. You may have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.

Apart from insomnia, many other sleep problems are linked to depression such as obstructive sleep apnoea. According to a Stanford University study including 18,980 people in Europe, depression increases the likelihood of sleep-disordered breathing by 5 times. Another study found that depression among people suffering from sleep-disordered breathing can be cured by treating their sleep problem. They found that their depression was significantly elevated as a result. More studies are piling up that treat depression by treating sleep problems of depressed patients. A recent study included 56 participants suffering from both insomnia and depression. The participants received psychotherapy for sleep problems but researchers found that in half of the participants, depression also eased as a result even though the therapy did not target cure for depression.

The relationship between depression and insomnia is far from simple. For some people, the symptoms of depression occur before having sleep problems and for others sleep problems appear first. According to Dr. Tracy Kuo, research psychologist at Stanford University, “Chronic sleep loss can lead to a loss of pleasure in life, one of the hallmarks of depression. When people can’t sleep, they often become anxious about not sleeping. Anxiety increases the potential for becoming depressed.”

This explains why depression is very common among insomniacs. According to a study conducted by the University of Texas, the rate of depression in insomniacs is 10 times higher than normal people.

So the good news is that by dealing positively with sleeplessness, both depression and insomnia can be treated and I can say that with personal experience. The preparation for good sleep begins way before you hit the pillow, so the healthiest way to improve your sleep is by making a few sleep friendly changes in your daily routine.

Here are some tips to combat sleeplessness:

Exercising is an excellent way to improve sleep and alleviate depression. According to the National Sleep Foundation people who exercise have much better sleep quality than people who don't do any physical activity even if they both get the same amount of sleep. The best time to exercise for a peaceful sleep is a few hours before bedtime. The reason is that when you exercise your body temperature rises for a few hours and stays above normal before dropping. This drop in temperature helps your body to settle for sleep so it's best to give it sometime and exercise in the evening if you want to go to bed early.

Smart Dinner Choices
Scientists have linked our food to our sleep and found that there are certain foods that help to promote sleep and they are simple foods like cherries, turkey, milk, nuts, lettuce and jasmine rice to name a few. So instead of going for sleeping pills and other drugs go the natural way by preparing your dinner meal with sleep promoting foods.

Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol before Bed
Alcohol and caffeinated drinks such as tea, coffee, red bull and cola drinks are all sleep disrupters. A cup of tea in the late evening hours can make you count sheep at night so it's best to avoid such drinks.

Avoid Screens
If you don't want to end up tossing and turning in bed worrying about random stuff, skip the TV session before bed. Also, avoid using your laptop, checking emails and even your phone at least 30 minutes before bedtime. The light from these screens keeps the brain alert and disrupts sleep.

Keep A Sleep Routine
Try to keep a sleep routine by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. This way your body’s circadian clock will map with your routine and will learn to settle for sleep close to bedtime. Also avoid napping in the afternoon as it may disrupt your nighttime sleep.

Set the Scene
Set the scene by keeping your bed clean, wearing comfortable clothing and turning off the lights. Adjust the room temperature to a comfortable level. Place any electronic gadgets such as cell phones, laptop, and tablets outside the room to create minimum disturbance. It’s best to turn them off and plug the chargers. Make yourself a warm cup of herbal tea and if you are into reading you can spend the last hour before bed reading a good book. Reading and even listening to soft music will help you to unwind after a long day and prepare you for sleep.

These tips are simple but they will have a great impact on your sleep and can help combat insomnia and depression.

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