What does sleep have to do with depression?


Think for a minute about how you feel when you wake up from a good night’s sleep…happy, energetic, resilient in the face of a difficult day.  Now think about sleeping poorly…exhausted, nauseous, irritable, poor levels of concentration—sound familiar?  Imagine you sleep poorly most nights due to snoring, or sleep apnea (stopping breathing while you sleep). Night after night, not getting quality sleep can have an effect on your overall mental state, even causing depression!

OK, but isn’t that a bit of a stretch from “tired” to depression?

Not at all.  In fact, researchers studied 9,714 men and women participating in an ongoing national health survey by the U.S.-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They used interviews about sleep symptoms and a questionnaire that screens adults for depression. (The report appears in the April issue of the Journal of Sleep.) Among those with a diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea, depression was more than twice as common among men, and more than five times as common among women, compared with those who did not have the condition.

But the researchers also found that those whose partners reported that they snored or stopped breathing were also significantly more likely to have depression, with the likelihood increasing with frequency of symptoms.

But WHY do people suffer depression without sleep?

Quality of sleep is necessary for turning off neurotransmitters and allowing their receptors to “rest” and regain sensitivity which allows the brain’s chemicals to be effective at naturally-produced levels. This leads to improved regulation of mood and increased learning ability.