For years, psychologists have understood that insomnia was one sign of depression. Now, researchers at Stanford and Duke universities and experts at the University of Pittsburgh are discovering that depression can cause insomnia. They theorize that the same chemical changes in the body can cause both conditions and that either one may occur first.
The risk of developing depression increases tenfold if you are diagnosed with insomnia. Meanwhile, the risk of insomnia increases by 75% if you are diagnosed as clinically depressed. Furthermore, according to a study done at John Hopkins University, people with insomnia have a 31% reduction in positive moods.
The Two-way Link Between Insomnia and Depression
The link appears to be in the number of restorative sleep cycles an individual gets on any given night and the length of those cycles. You need at least seven hours of sleep so that your body goes through five-to-seven sleep cycles. Restorative sleep only occurs during the last two segments of each cycle, so if you find it difficult to stay asleep, you are not getting much or any restorative sleep. There are many consequences in addition to feeling depressed when your body does not get enough rest, including:
- Memory and concentration issues
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
Why Complete Sleep Cycles Are Essential?
You can think of sleep cycles like repairing a road. During the first part of each cycle, traffic must be stopped so that repair work can begin. Then, traffic may be allowed back on the road for a short while before it is closed again to traffic. Then, the actual repair work begins. If work is interrupted or ended during this part of the cycle, the process must start all over again, or you will end up with potholes.
The same happens in the brain when a person sleeps. All but essential messages, such as to keep breathing, must stop for a while. Then, the brain can process what has occurred during the day and prepare itself for a new day. When these cycles are interrupted, the brain is not ready to take on the new day’s challenges.
Steps to Try to Improve Sleep Cycles
Waking up at the same time each day is vital to setting your body’s sleep cycles. Consuming too much sugar and caffeine can interfere with your body’s cycles, so try eliminating them from your diet. Exercising early in the day often helps.
If you have trouble sleeping, get help before you become depressed. Alternately, if you are depressed, then seek help so that you do not lose precious sleep cycles. At American Behavioral Clinics, we are here to help you feel better. Many people find relief through cognitive behavioral therapy. We invite you to Contact Us Today for a free consultation.