Sleep and Depression: 5 Ways to End Depression Through Sleep

Thu, Feb 21, 2019

issam-hammoudi-631683-unsplashImagine a scenario where sleeping better ends your depression. Well, it could become a reality. The connection between sleep and depression is more apparent than ever. So, if you find yourself lying in bed feeling miserable or on edge then you’ve come to the right place. And according to recent research, it's not surprising that your thoughts disrupt your sleep.

How Sleep and Depression Work Together

Depression is a serious disorder that influences many facets of your life. It affects how you eat, rest, feel and think. While the cause of depression is unknown, it is possible to treat it. Furthermore, there is a ton of research on the connection between sleep and depression.

Sleep is your brain and body's opportunity to re-energize from the day. So the association between sleep and depression is evident. Fundamentally, if your thoughts intrude on your sleep, you'll feel tired the next day. Your body and mind haven't had an opportunity to recoup. And you'll be left feeling miserable. Before you know it, an endless cycle begins where depression causes a sleeping disorder and lack of sleep causes depression.

Truth be told, a study in the journal Sleep discovers people with a sleeping disorder have more depression than people who don't have a sleeping disorder. Individuals with insomnia were 17.35 times more likely to have clinical depression and anxiety. An increase in sleep deprivation resulted in an increase in depression. And, an increase in awakenings also resulted in an increase in depression.

In any case, it's not simply people with insomnia who are vulnerable to depression. For example, sleep apnea is frequently misdiagnosed as depression. That’s because the side effects are so similar. But rest assured, you can stop the cycle of lack of sleep and depression.

How Sleep Apnea Affects Depression

If you battle with depression it may come as a surprise that a sleep disorder is to blame. A recent study demonstrates that side effects of depression are common in people who have obstructive sleep apnea. And, the study also demonstrates these symptoms improve when sleep apnea is treated with CPAP.

That’s right, almost 73% of sleep apnea patients in the study have clinical depression. And their symptoms of depression become worse if their sleep apnea episodes increase. Patients vulnerable to self-harm or suicidal thoughts report no longer feeling this way at the next 3-month check-up. And only 4% of the patients who stick with CPAP for 3 months report ongoing symptoms of depression.

"Powerful treatment of obstructive rest apnea brought about considerable change in depressive side effects, including self-destructive ideation," says senior creator David R. Hillman, MD. Hillman is a clinical educator at the University of Western Australia and rest doctor at the Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth. "The discoveries feature the potential for rest apnea, a famously underdiagnosed condition, to be misdiagnosed as misery."

If you have depression it’s important to have a sleep study so you know if you have sleep apnea. Ultimately, treating sleep apnea is easy and may change your life.

How Many Hours of Sleep Should You Get?

By and large, the general rule is that adults should aim to sleep for eight hours per night. In fact, research from State University New York discovers sleeping under eight hours is related to symptoms of depression.

To be honest sleeping eight hours a night is easier said than done. That’s why it’s great to have a few techniques up your sleeve to encourage sleep. Especially if you have depression. Here are our top tips for breaking the cycle of lack of sleep and depression.


5 Ways to End Depression Through Sleep

1. No Blue Light
Blue light from cell phones, gadgets and TVs hugely affects your sleep. That’s because your body registers blue light as sunshine and stops releasing melatonin. And, melatonin, otherwise called the sleep hormone, makes you feel tired. So shut down and get your body clock on track. Kill cell phones, gadgets, TVs and other screens no less than 2 hours before sleep time. Why not read a book, play a board game with your family, or any other relaxing quiet activities.


2. Get a Notebook

If you’re awake at night with too many thoughts going around your head it’s a good idea to write them down. Keep a notebook and pen on your bedside table. Recording things that make you feel on edge or sad may help improve your mood. Journaling your thoughts and emotions every day is a very healing process.


3. Improve Your Sleep Hygiene

End your bad sleep habits and make a sleeping space that is quiet and serene. There are many things you can change today to help you get a decent night's rest. Check out our sleep hygiene tips for ideas.

4. Assess Your Sleep

You may experience the side effects of a sleep disorder and not even know you have one. Snoring and sleep apnea is usually noticed by a partner or relative. Believe it or not, a lot of people go for a long time experiencing daytime tiredness and don't realise they have sleep apnea. CPAP therapy is the best treatment for snoring and sleep apnea. What's more, it's shown to ease depression. Take our free sleep self-assessment questionnaire now.


5. Seek Help

If you have signs of depression it's imperative to talk with your partner, family and friends about it. What's more, see an expert. Treatment for depression generally includes psychotherapy and/or medication. And either one of these treatments may be used to treat both depression and sleep disorders. In fact, treatment for sleep disorders is frequently part of depression treatment.

If you have sleep apnea you have to tell your doctor or specialist. Some medications used for depression may stifle breathing and increase sleep apnea episodes. Prior to starting your treatment for depression, chat with your doctor about any sleeping problems you have. Treating the sleep issue might be all it takes to ease your depression.

If you think you have a sleep disorder don’t put off getting help any longer. The negative consequences of sleep-disordered breathing are serious. And the effects of treatment are extraordinarily positive.  Call us today on 1300 246 637 or submit the contact form below for a free no-obligation chat with one of our friendly Sleep Therapists. Contact us now.



  • Taylor DJ, Lichstein KL, Durrence HH, Reidel BW, Bush AJ. Epidemiology of insomnia, depression and anxiety. Sleep. 2005 Nov;28(11):1457-64.
  • Cass Edwards, Sutapa Mukherjee, Laila Simpson, Lyle J. Palmer, Osvaldo P. Almeida, David R. Hillman. Depressive Symptoms before and after Treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Men and Women. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 2015
  • Jacob A. Nota, Meredith E. Coles. Shorter sleep duration and longer sleep onset latency are related to difficulty disengaging attention from negative emotional images in individuals with elevated transdiagnostic repetitive negative thinking. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 2018; 58: 114