How common are sleep problems in depression?

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Depression and Sleeping

Depression is often connected to problems with sleep. It can either be too much sleep (hypersomnia), or too little sleep (insomnia). There is also some debate about whether it can be the cause of weight gain and/or weight loss. This blog considers all of these factors and the benefits of medication, namely anti depressants and zopiclone.

It has been estimated that more than 80 per cent of people suffering from depression have problems with their sleep, usually not getting enough . However, I have found that during my periods of depression I sleep more.

Being tired effects everything

This type of tired is like a constant state of exhaustion, which takes over your body from top to toe.  It starts from the mental exhaustion from the daily battles you have inside your head. It affects your emotions, causing hypersensitivity and complete numbness and running the emotional gauntlet in between. Having to constantly explain or justify why you’re tired is exhausting in itself.

Being tired stops you being focused

Being constantly tired makes you feel weak and vulnerable. It makes every decision harder to make and often means not being able to think clearly or focus on the things you previously took for granted.

How do I manage my sleep problems?

I find that my sleep regime is dependant upon the events of the day and my general mood. There are, however, two major considerations that help me sleep;

  1. Going to the gym. This has been beneficial for a number of reasons. Firstly, it offers a routine.Take a look at my blog entitled I’ve been busy keeping myself busy – a good way of feeling better?  I tend to go in the morning and then have the afternoon to ‘get things done’. Secondly, it was highly recommended as a form of treatment as the body produces ‘feel good chemicals’ into the body following a good work out finally, it gives me an appetite when I leave otherwise I probably wouldn’t bother eating.
  2. Medication. It took a while for my medication to work but this is a well known consideration when taking anti-depressants. In my case I found that it took about four weeks and an increase in dosage. Read my blog called My relationship with Sertraline. Is it ok to consider medication?  and Being a bloke means you can’t take medication

Sleeping patterns of somebody with depression is very different to normal sleeping patterns:

·         It takes much longer to get off to sleep

·         The total sleep time is reduced

·         There is little or no deep sleep

·         REM sleep occurs earlier in the night

·         There are more frequent wakenings during the night, which may last long enough for the person to be aware of them. The person wakes up earlier in the morning and can’t get back to sleep, even if feeling very tired.

What can I do about my sleep problem?

For those of you who are finding it difficult to sleep it can be extremely distressing. Fortunately, there are a number of things that you can do to try and improve your sleep.

Sleep problems – mind

Below is some general advice for anybody who has difficulty getting to sleep.

·         Get into a routine with your sleep times. Get up at the same time each morning, even if you have not had a good night’s sleep. Don’t sleep during the day, and don’t go to bed early to try and get more sleep – you are likely just to lie in bed thinking over problems. Go to bed in the evening when you are tired.

·         Take some physical exercise during the day. This helps to make your body more tired in the evening and makes it easier to get to sleep. . Exercise is good for you physically, and there’s also research that suggests that exercise can have an antidepressant effect. Take a look at my blog entitled I’ve been busy keeping myself busy – a good way of feeling better? 

·         Avoid exercise in the two hours before bedtime. This is because exercise ‘activates’ the body, which can make it difficult to get off to sleep.

·         Avoid watching disturbing or violent films prior to bedtime.

·         Avoid drinking caffeine (tea, coffee, cola) in the evening after 6pm. Caffeine is a stimulant and can prevent sleep. Drink no more than four cups of tea, or of coffee, or cans of cola in a day.

·         Drink herbal teas or milky drinks such as Horlicks in the evening. Herbal teas don’t contain caffeine and milky drinks have been shown to be as good as sleeping tablets for many people. However, be aware that chocolate or cocoa milk drinks often contain caffeine.

·         Avoid heavy meals in the two hours before bedtime. It can be extremely difficult to get off to sleep with a full stomach.

·         Avoid alcohol in the evening. While alcohol is sedative, it is not a good idea to try to use it to sort out a sleep problem. This is because alcohol does not lead to normal restful sleep. In addition, alcohol causes you to pass increasing amounts of urine, which further disrupts sleep. Unfortunately, a significant number of people with depression develop an alcohol problem from using alcohol to help them sleep.

·         You should associate your room with sleep: avoid having a TV or radio in your bedroom. For similar reasons do not check your mobile phone in bed or work on your laptop.

·         Your bedroom should be warm and familiar with a comfortable bed and duvet, etc. Ideally, the room should be decorated in a relaxing way. This all helps in associating the room in your mind with restful sleep.


Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression How common are sleep problems in depression?

During my professional life I came across Zopiclone a number of times. I was aware that it was normally prescribed for insomnia but had never put sleeping problems and depression together. I did find that early on following my arrest I was subjected to regular flashbacks of events that happened during my relationship with my ex. Initially my GP was hesitant to prescribe zopiclone but we concluded that it was worth a try to help me get some form of sleep and rest.

Zopiclone is usually prescribed for the short-term treatment of insomnia. Long-term use is not recommended, as tolerance and addiction is known to occur.

How have I found Zopiclone?

I’ve been lucky with Zopiclone as I have managed to avoid some of the well known side effects. These are listed as being dizziness, nausea and vomiting,  headache, confusion and nightmares nightmares. However, be aware that just because they work for me doesn’t necessarily mean they will be right for you.

Is having a lack of energy a sign of depression?

More than 90 percent of depressed people experience overwhelming loss of energy. This can cause a person to stay home and avoid social interaction, and prevent a person from starting or finishing projects, maintaining previous interests, or exercising. The effects of diminished energy compound the effects of depression, when work, school, and family obligations are compromised. Also, lack of activity results in loss of muscle tone, muscle mass, and, eventually, bone mass. In turn, these effects lead to degeneration in physique, strength, and physical well-being.

Can depression lead to weight loss or weight gain?

When depressed people lose the energy it takes to accomplish basic tasks, important needs such as eating are compromised. Many depressed people lose their appetite, which results in erratic eating habits and missed meals. Subsequent weight loss may result in nutritional deficiency and mental and physical sluggishness. Some people with depression have an increased appetite and gain weight. These people are usually the same who oversleep.

Manage your sleeping patterns

Problems sleeping are therefore, normal when it comes to dealing with depression. It does need to be managed otherwise it can create problems in other quarters and this may lead to an ever decreasing circle of despair and problems. Go and speak to your GP and have a go at trying out the gym.

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