The Relationship between Sleep and Depression

Everyone has to sleep at some point. It’s what restores our bodies and minds for the upcoming activities of the day, regardless of what they might be. In an ideal world, each person would be getting 7 to 9 hours of restful sleep each night. Sadly, this is hardly the case. Sleep disorders plague the world as one of the most common conditions faced by adults today; over 25% of people will experience a sleep disorder in their lifetime.

None of this sounds good, but being tired during the day isn’t so dangerous is it? Unfortunately, it is. Not getting the proper amount of sleep can lead to much more than simply being fatigued the next day. If the problem isn’t fixed before long, symptoms such as irritability, forgetfulness, and a general lack of focus can be expected.

The immune system will soon be compromised along with a chance of disrupting hormone production and blood pressure. However, the most threatening culprit for most people is the increased risk of depression.

What is Depression?

Depression is a mood disorder that also ranks as one of the most common disabilities on the planet. It is more than just a feeling of being sad or despondent. People facing depression often feel empty, worthless, anxious, and/or guilty for extended periods of time.

They no longer enjoy things that used to make them happy and generally feel lacking in energy or drive. To those that have no experience with this disorder it may seem hard to understand, but nearly half of the people going through depression have thoughts of self-harm or suicide. This makes it an extremely dangerous disorder that must be handled with the utmost care.

The Connection

Sleep specialist - Kallysleep says disorders play a large role in contributing to the onset of depression. Though they are never the direct cause of this mood disorder, both share symptoms that can often worsen it. Those that suffer from both a sleep disorder and depression often have more severe and longer-lasting periods of the two.

Insomnia is the most common type of sleep disorder that can form either before or after the initial signs of depression, but there are many others which are equally detrimental such as sleep apnea and narcolepsy.

If someone did not originally have trouble with their sleep before developing depression, it is highly likely to form. Thus, it is a vicious cycle between the two. Those with sleep disorders that contribute to their depression or vice-versa are stuck in an ugly game. Each negative symptom only intensifies the other, making it that much harder for a person to climb out on the other side.


As the most common sleep disorder, many people are well aware of what insomnia is. It is when a person is having trouble falling or staying asleep. Often times a person will wake up dissatisfied with the sleep they had the former night regardless of the hours rested. Like most sleep disorders, this can lead to irritation, fatigue, trouble concentrating, and changes in mood. This can eventually cause depression; those suffering from acute insomnia, a briefer form of the sleep disorder often reared from temporary circumstances, also have a high chance of developing depression.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is when a person’s sleep is interrupted by small, repeated bouts of irregular breathing. These episodes typically last for 10 or more seconds in which the sleeper stops breathing before abruptly beginning again. There are two prominent types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is the more common of the two as it generally deals with a physical blockage of the airway such as the tongue or having large neck. Central sleep apnea, on the other hand, is more neural; it is caused by the brain failing to control breathing properly while asleep.

As one might think, this is very disruptive to a good night’s sleep as well as many other aspects of life. Due to this routine of frequently disturbed sleep and a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream, people will often face hypertension and heart disease along with this condition. It is common for hypersomnia to also occur which in turn carries a higher risk for depression.


Another sleep disorder that is often recognized by hypersomnia is narcolepsy. People with narcolepsy will experience extreme daytime sleepiness as well as sudden episodes of near unpreventable sleep in more relaxing or monotonous environments.

This sleep disorder is often described as a leak between the sleeping and awake states of mind; symptoms can include sleep paralysis, daytime hallucinations, vivid nightmares, and cataplexy. Those suffering from narcolepsy will sometimes have trouble driving or doing basic tasks without falling asleep.

Out of the three sleep disorders described, it is the one that most obviously affects the waking world.

Treatment and Coping

Each sleep disorder is a big contributor to the onset and continuation of depression. Just as depression itself can in turn lead to sleep disorders. Though it may seem like a hopeless pit of bad and worse, there are plenty of methods to treat and help cope with these disorders.

The first step toward progress is regulating sleep. This can be more difficult for some than it is for others depending on what is disrupting sleep in the first place. If a sleep disorder is the cause, then it is best to seek professional help. Those with sleep apnea often need a CPAP machine while others can simply take medication; it is highly recommended for such people to ask a specialist.

After rooting out the core of the issue, set up a schedule. There should be clear, routine times for both sleeping and waking up. It is important to stick to these times regardless of temptations or other factors. Habits that can help a person stick to this schedule are avoiding caffeine during the evening, regular exercise, and only using their bed for sleeping. Be sure not to lounge or otherwise relax in the bed until it is time to sleep.

Lastly, a person facing depression should seek out psychotherapy as soon as possible. It is through support and proper medication that people come out the other side.