How to Enjoy a Good Night Sleep while Depressed
Many people who deal with depression also have trouble getting a good night sleep. And it's been proven that sleep disorders and depression symptoms are quite often linked together.
In a 1994-95 study noted in the American Journal of Psychiatry, sleep disorders were shown in several of the cases to be a cause of future depression, and in most cases helped heighten the already existing depression.
Around 80 percent of those suffering from depression aren't getting enough good sleep, because of one or more of the following conditions:
- Sleep onset insomnia, or difficulty falling asleep
- Sleep maintenance insomnia, or frequent waking during the night
- Restless or light sleep
These disrupt your regular body rhythms and deny you of rest.
Why Getting Enough Sleep Is Important
The importance of getting good sleep can't be overstated. Both the body and mind receive rest and renewal during the hours that we are unconscious. Being denied a minimum of 6 hours will bring on negative effects, even after a short time - irritability, fatigue, and vulnerability to illness, for example. And certainly any underlying depression could deepen.
As we sleep, we naturally cycle through 5 different stages, REM being the deepest, and actually wake up at least a couple of times. But someone who is depressed will experience disturbances in their sleep patterns, like:
- A lack of deeper-level sleep
- Waking up more often during the night and staying awake for awhile each time
- Waking up and staying awake very early in the morning, even though the body is tired
Use Of Depression Medications
- Antidepressants such as dosulepin have often included sedative qualities. There are several newer types like trazodone that are more effective in promoting healthy sleep rather than "dopier" heavy sleep.
- Sleep aids (Benzodiazepines) should only be used under a doctor's supervision, since they are meant for short-term use, and can be very addictive.
- More medical professionals are exploring non-medicinal methods for improving sleep for patients, sometimes utilizing them in combination with prescriptions.
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Natural Ways To Help With Sleep Issues
Making sure you're getting the rest you need is an important way to take care of yourself, especially while your dealing with symptoms of depression. And there are several ways beyond medication that you can try.
Keep A Regular Sleep Routine
This is a good principal for the whole day. Establish a good routine for yourself, deciding your bed and getting up time, and stick to it every day.
And create before-bed habits that will encourage you to relax. If you like baths, use scented oils such as lavender or chamomile. Listen to soft, gentle music or read an inspirational book to calm your mind. Practice deep breathing.
Get Regular Exercise
The benefits of exercise are widely known - lung, heart and bone health, as well as other systems in the body. Being physically active increases levels of "feel-good" hormones in the brain, which will lighten your mood.
Introduce exercise gently into your day if you haven't been doing much lately: a walk at lunchtime, morning and evening stretches, a bike ride on the weekend. Finding a mix of activities you like, and get someone to join you for a bit of fellowship.
Note: Do any heavy workouts earlier in the day, or your body will be too stimulated at bedtime.
Practical Advice For Getting Good Sleep
Too much sugar during the day puts you on an energy level roller coaster. You want to keep your blood sugar levels as even as you can, so your moods will stay manageable.
Be aware of how much caffeine you take in, and when. There's nothing wrong with a cup of regular coffee in the morning. But if you're having sleep trouble, then cut off caffeine after 3 pm. Decaf coffee and herbal teas are good choices to linger over after dinner.
Vitamin and mineral supplements can also help. The B vitamins, C, D, calcium and magnesium all provide antioxidants, which help the body handle stress.
Be Careful What You Watch And Read
It's best to avoid watching any upsetting or violent shows or movies before going to sleep - images or fears may invade your dreams or keep you awake.
You might consider keeping the TV out of your bedroom altogether. Make your bed and bedroom a "retreat" - cozy, relaxing and a place that invites sleep.
Keep A Journal
Having a notebook right by your bed provides a place to write out any worries, concerns or strong feelings that are weighing on you. Once you put your thoughts on paper, it's easier to look at them objectively. That can quickly make you feel calmer.
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