Depression and Sleep: Understanding the relationship

Aamir Ranjha

Depression and Sleep im

Depression and Sleep: Understanding the relationship

Here in this post, we are providing insight about Depression and Sleep”. You can read Overview, relationship, the importance of Sleep, and Treatment. Keep visiting Psychology Roots.

What is depression?

Depression is a recognized Mental health disorder. The disorder is known to be a mood disorder and diagnosed if there are at least 4 symptoms present, that have persisted for at least two weeks. The disorder is signified by constantly feeling sad, lack of interest in activities, feelings of worthlessness, disturbances in concentration, fatigue, disturbances in appetite, and disturbances in sleep. Sleep disturbances are one of the most common and major symptoms to be found when diagnosing a depressive disorder. (DSM-V)

Depression and Sleep im
Depression and Sleep 

If you have been experiencing a few or most of these symptoms, contact a therapist immediately to seek further guidance.

The link between sleep and depression

It has been recognized that one of the most common and prominent signs of depression are sleep disturbances which could mean:

  •         Lack of sleep: Insomnia
  •         Oversleeping: Hypersomnia
  •         Inadequate sleep quality

Many studies have outlined disturbed sleep patterns in the night to be associated with depression. Sleep initiation, maintain continuous sleep throughout the night, early awakening than normal routine, and sleep quality that does not prove to be relaxing are all some of the reported difficulties of sleep, in people diagnosed with depression.

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Sleep and depression: a two-way street

Insomnia has also been seen to lead to depression, many people report having the symptoms of insomnia and depression to begin at the same time, and some report sleep disturbances as precedence of their depressive episode.

According to a study, people who report sleep difficulties and disturbances have chances of developing insomnia in the longer run. Sleep disorders are a cause for vulnerability towards developing depression (Perlis et al,1997). Sleep disturbances have been seen to precede the onset of other symptoms of depression in some cases. Enduring sleep disturbances during the treatment of depression increase the likelihood of relapse even after treatment (Nutt et al).

While Sleep disturbances are associated with depression. Depression itself has been known to produce sleep difficulties as a consequence. Depression will alter the neurological programming of the brain and this modification will shift the normal sleep cycles to an abnormal one, causing sleep disturbances in the end.

Importance of sleep

The lack of sufficient and valuable sleep at night leads to other symptoms such as suicide. Oversleeping is less frequently reported by people who have depression nonetheless, it has been reported that patients who report insomnia or hypersomnia in major depression are more prone to suicidal thoughts and attempts. (Agargun et al,1997).

In other cases, sleep difficulties have been associated with mood disturbances which are characteristic of depression: feeling blue. Lack of sleep or poor sleep quality will pave the way to daytime exhaustion and sleepiness.

Furthermore, sleep difficulties have been reported to impact the quality of life.  sleep disturbances in people with depression have a far worse impact than those who are normal. People have reported lower quality of life and lower satisfaction with sleep.

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Treatment of sleep and depression

Various therapeutic techniques like cognitive behavioral therapy for depression are used by therapists to cater to the disorder. However, it is recommended that sleep disturbances be treated separately due to their entangled relationship with depression. Treatment for depression may alleviate symptoms and improve sleep patterns but in order to avoid relapse, sleep should be treated distinctly.


  • Ağargün, M. Y., Kara, H., & Solmaz, M. (1997). Sleep disturbances and suicidal behavior in  patients with major depression. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 58(6), 249–251.
  • WebMD. (2020). Sleep and Depression.
  • Jewell, T. (2019, March 12). Depression and sleep: What’s the connection. Healthline.
  • John Hopkins Medicine. (n.d). Depression and Sleep: Understanding the Connection.
  • Nutt, D., Wilson, S., & Paterson, L. (2008). Sleep disorders as core symptoms of  depression. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience10(3), 329–336.
  • Perlis, M. L., Giles, D. E., Buysse, D. J., Tu, X., & Kupfer, D. J. (1997). Self-reported sleep disturbance as a prodromal symptom in recurrent depression. Journal of Affective Disorders, 42(2-3), 209–212. doi:10.1016/s0165-0327(96)01411-5

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I am a senior clinical psychologist with over 11years of experience in the field. I am the founder of Psychology Roots, a platform that provides solutions and support to learners and professionals in psychology. My goal is to help people understand and improve their mental health, and to empower them to live happier and healthier lives.

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