Beat sleeplessness and depression to be healthier

By Saya Norm


Sleep plays a vital role in good health and well-being throughout our life. While sleeping, the body is working to support healthy brain function and maintain physical health. In children and teens, sleep also helps support growth and devel­opment.


Getting inadequate sleep over time, in other words, sleep deprivation or total sleeplessness can raise the risk for chronic health problems. On the other hand, depression is classified as a mood disorder. It may be de­scribed as feelings of sadness, loss, or anger that interfere with a person’s everyday activities.


Sleeplessness and depres­sion seem separate variables, sometimes they are correlated; in the worst way, mutually depend­ent and kill. The combination of depression and insomnia (sleep­lessness) definitely made things worse. It’s becoming increasingly clear that these two things are linked. German meta-analysis in 2011 showed that insomnia doubles the risk of developing depression compared with those who have no sleep difficulties. Follow-up research in 2020 found these conditions have a mutual relationship.


Globally, both insomnia and depression affect millions of peo­ple. The world health organisation estimates 264 million people glob­ally experience depression.


And some people experi­ence both simultaneously. Sleep disorders and depression often occurs together. Up to 80 per cent of depression is accompanied by sleep disorders. They are like sib­lings. And about half the number of people with insomnia also felt the symptoms of depression. In such people, the risk of developing depression is up to three times higher, compared with people without sleep disorders.


Both conditions can nega­tively affect health: people with chronic insomnia are more likely to have a weaker immune system and get sick more often. Besides, they had a greater risk of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and heart disease: people with chronic depression are more like­ly to experience stress, chronic pain or weight gain - also they may be at risk of misusing drugs or alcohol. Nobody knows which may come first, insomnia or depres­sion. Research shows that treat­ing one condition may improve symptoms of both. The chicken or the egg first is not matter. To catch the things that might help both conditions is more important.


People with insomnia may have trouble shutting down their minds at bedtime.


In a good sleeper, the whole brain and all relevant brain cen­tres go into a sleep state. In in­somniacs, some parts of the brain do not sleep as deeply. Repeated losing sleep this way can affect mood.


Sleep-deprived persons may more likely to be irritable, a bit exhausted, and a bit likely to want to interact socially the next day. Most people want to control their sleep, but they can’t; sleep is involuntary. Chronic sleep­lessness means feeling helpless which is a typical feature of de­pression.


One classic symptom of de­pression is altered sleep habits. Many people with depression ex­perience insomnia as well. Often depression is diagnosed through a checklist, and that includes sleep­lessness as well as irritability, the feeling of sadness and so on. Sometimes, traumatic life circum­stances such as the death of a spouse elicit such strong respons­es that people may experience both depression and insomnia.


Coping with insomnia or depression by itself may seem draining; having both problems simultaneously may feel like a great challenge. If severe depres­sion is coupled with insomnia, one shouldn’t neglect insomnia. But it is good to have an eye on both. There is some evidence that identifying and treating insom­nia symptoms early can reduce depression symptoms and also prevent them from becoming worse in the future.


Modest changes may re­duce depression risk and protect against insomnia.


For that, we don’t need to rush off to see a specialist. Well, what we can do for lifestyle chang­es that mitigate depression or both. Physical exercise is very important for good sleep and protection against depression, as are healthy eating habits and staying off alcohol. Moreover, quit­ting smoking may be helpful. Be active and go back to the things that you’re interested in, and give you pleasure. Opening up to a trusted or bosom friend about the struggles with insomnia or depressed mood may help.


If there are still issues after that, one might need to seek help from well experienced healthcare professional. Sleeping pills may be just temporary relief.


In long term, drug depend­ence may develop. And the med­icines won’t. address underlying causes of insomnia. A hypnotic treatment works well in the short term.


But it doesn’t do anything to address sleep issues in a sus­tained way. Learning other tech­niques that may more effectively help is another option. Cognitive behavioural therapy for insom­nia (CBT-I ) is such a technique. It involves thought-stopping and physical-and-mental relaxation tactics and can have a positive effect on both disorders.


if the above-mentioned ones are not enough, you can try other simpler ways. Mindfulness and the regular taking of religious works are among them. They are not the road-end. There are more ways in psychiatric medicine to treat them; like talk therapy and antidepressants. Not all antide­pressants have the same impact on insomnia. Once or more in a lifetime almost everybody may encounter insomnia or depres­sion or both. It is unavoidable. With advanced knowledge and treatments in both fields, a suffer­er today may get better chances to heal.


But you are the owner of your mind and body. The duty to care for them is mostly yours. Not health professionals.