The Role of Sleep in Depression


If you’re beginning treatment for depression, it’s critical to also find ways to get a good night’s sleep. Try to get on a regular sleep schedule, waking up and going to bed at the same time every day-including weekends-as much as possible.

Sleep problems can be both a cause and an effect of depression. One of the best treatment options for frequent insomnia-just as for depression-is cognitive behavioral therapy; this therapy can help change thoughts and behaviors that interfere with good sleep.

You can also try self-help measures for better sleep. Ideas include:

  • Avoiding or cutting down on caffeine in the late afternoon and evening.
  • Wearing earplugs or using a white noise machine to create a quiet calm environment.
  • Not using alcohol as a sleep aid. It helps you fall asleep quickly, but later disrupts your sleep.
  • Don’t eat a large meal 2 to 3 hours before bedtime. A full stomach can promote heartburn.

Many popular sleep medications have depressive effects. While occasional short-term use can help with insomnia, long-term use can add to the problem of depression.

During the daytime, it’s important to maintain social contact and activities while being treated for depression. Friends and family can help support you and reduce social isolation and depression. You may have to make an extra effort to keep up social contacts, as depression can sap your motivation.