Healthline explains that there is a two-way link between insomnia and depression. Sleep problems can be both a symptom of and a risk factor for depression.
Insomnia can mean having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up at the desired time. Basically, you aren’t getting enough sleep to function well. Depression can range from having a few depressive symptoms to major depression.
Early morning wakefulness can sometimes be a sign of depression. And poor sleep has been shown to significantly worsen symptoms of many mental health issues.
A large 2016 meta-analysisTrusted Source found that insomnia is significantly associated with an increased risk of depression. Some theories for this are:
- Sleep loss may cause cognitive and mood changes.
- Sleep disturbance may impair emotional regulation and stability and alter neural processes.
- Lack of sleep may induce a stress response and increase levels of inflammatory markers.
According to a systematic review from 2013, evidence suggests that insomnia and depression are a two-way street: Having one condition increases the risk of having the other. The researchers also noted that insomnia predicts depression more consistently than depression predicts insomnia.
Mind writes that there is definitely a close relationship between sleep and mental health. Living with a mental health problem can affect how well you sleep, and poor sleep can have a negative impact on your mental health.
If you live with a mental health problem, this could affect your sleep in lots of ways. For example:
- Anxiety can cause racing or repetitive thoughts, and worries that keep you awake. You may also have panic attacks while you’re trying to sleep.
- Depression and seasonal affective disorder (SAD) can make you sleep more, including staying in bed for longer or sleeping more often. Depression can also cause insomnia.
- If you’ve gone through trauma, this can cause flashbacks, nightmares or night terrors that disturb your sleep. You might feel unsafe or uncomfortable in bed or in the dark.
- Paranoia and psychosis may make it difficult to sleep. You may hear voices, or see things you find frightening or disturbing.
- Mania often causes feelings of energy and elation, so you might not feel tired or want to sleep. Racing thoughts can also keep you awake and cause insomnia.
- Psychiatric medication can cause side effects including insomnia, disturbed sleep, nightmares and oversleeping. Stopping psychiatric drugs can also cause sleep problems.
Clearly, insomnia can contribute to depression and mental health problems. The best way to avoid this is to go and see your GP the minute you feel your symptoms are getting worse.
The NHS website has a page on Dealing with Sleep Problems – Mental Health and Wellbeing, which includes understanding your sleep problems, top tips to get to sleep and sleep better, a MIND plan, a Video on what you can do for sleep problems, signs of sleep problems, possible causes of sleep problems and support for sleep problems.