Depression is a severe mental illness, but many people don’t even realize that it can cause sleep problems. Sleeping issues are one of the most common symptoms of depression, and research shows that up to 50% of depressed patients experience insomnia or other sleep disturbances. It’s hard to understand how someone could be both depressed and sleepless at the same time. But it makes sense when you consider what happens in your brain while you’re asleep. The reason why so many depressives have trouble falling asleep (and staying asleep) is that they’re having negative thoughts about themselves and their lives during those hours when they should be resting peacefully. Their brains are stuck on replay mode all night long! Fortunately, there are some practical ways to help treat depressive symptoms so that you can start getting better sleep again. Even if you still feel sad or anxious sometimes during the day.

Depression is a very Commonplace

Depression is a common mental health problem. Studies show that 15 percent of the population suffers from depression at some point in their life, and as many as one out of ten people will experience an episode during any given year. Women are more likely to become depressed than men, but studies suggest this may be due to social factors rather than differences in biology or genetics. 

Sometimes it’s hard to figure out exactly what triggers depressive episodes. But we do know that when they go untreated, they have severe consequences on your physical health and ability to function day-to-day! The causes for depression can range from genetic predisposition, stressful events such as abuse, financial problems, or losing someone close to you, like death by suicide.

Depression is a mood disorder that can cause feelings of sadness, worthlessness, and hopelessness. It also impacts your sleep because it disrupts the natural cycles of serotonin production in our bodies.

It’s common for people with depression to experience changes when they go to bed or wake up. They may have trouble falling asleep at night–or waking up early without feeling rested during the day. 

These symptoms are part of what doctors call dysthymia, affecting about 20% of those who suffer from the major depressive disorder (MDD). Dysthymia is no less severe than MDD but usually involves fewer changes in functioning such as work and relationships. The goal should always be remission (getting rid of the symptoms).

The two types of sleep abnormalities associated with depression are insomnia and hypersomnia. Insomnia is usually difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, while hypersomnia is oversleeping. 

Insomnia can be caused by a change in your environment, such as going to bed at an earlier time than usual because you’re under stress, or it may come from having problems like anxiety that keep you awake. Hypersomnia could also be linked to medication for high blood pressure, which causes daytime drowsiness, so people who take these medications often have trouble sleeping when they’ve been up all day–too much serotonin makes them sleepy.

Types Of Depression

Depression is a mental disorder that affects millions of people every year. It’s hard to know how to help someone depressed because it comes in so many different forms. There are several types of depression, and each one can have very other causes and effects.

Major Depressive Disorder:

Major depressive disorder is also known as clinical or major depression. People who have this type of depression experience persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness, lose interest in activities they once enjoyed, have a hard time sleeping (insomnia) and eating correctly, might be exhausted yet still not able to sleep at night because their mind won’t stop racing with negative thoughts (anxiety), may think about suicide if the condition doesn’t improve.

Major Depressive Disorder affects between 17-18% of all adults each year. It’s more common among women than men. Some people are born predisposed to developing Major Depression–it runs in families, and there’s often an underlying chemical imbalance that causes it. There could be many reasons why some people develop MDD, but it usually stems from trauma or stress.

Persistent Depressive Disorder:

Persistent depressive disorder is a long-term form of depression that persists for at least two years. It’s more common among adults, but it can occur in children and adolescents as well. About 15% to 20% of people with Major Depression develop Persistent Depressive Disorder after an initial episode has passed. The condition may be chronic or recurrent if the sufferer doesn’t get help from medication or cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

Bipolar Disorder:

Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that causes wide swings in emotions and energy. Bipolar sufferers may experience periods of mania or hypomania, where they might suddenly feel pleased for no reason at all and start doing radical things like spending a lot of money or sleeping with someone new every night. The opposite end of the spectrum is severe depression, which can cause them to be unable to get out of bed during an episode (a condition called “major depressive episodes”).

Seasonal Depression:

A subset of people who experience major depressive disorder also struggles during the winter months. In a recent study, 37% of participants with severe depression showed more signs of seasonal affective disorder than those without it.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is an illness in which changes in seasons or daylight hours impact sufferers’ moods and energy levels. SAD typically occurs when days get shorter, especially after summertime that has been very long and warm; this can happen even if the temperature doesn’t change much.

Depression affects sleep patterns because it’s exhausting to feel sad all day–sleep becomes difficult as well! Sufferers may have trouble falling asleep at night due to increased anxiety from ruminating thoughts about their condition. The early morning hours, which are often lighter because of increased natural light in the sky, may also trigger an unhappy mood.

Another factor that affects sleep is the change in melatonin levels due to a person’s circadian rhythm. Melatonin helps regulate our sleeping patterns and is reduced among those with depression–those who have trouble concentrating or feeling motivated can have more difficulty falling asleep at night as well!

Postpartum Depression:

Postpartum depression, also known as PPD or postnatal depressive disorder, refers to a type of major depressive episode that occurs within the first few weeks following childbirth. An estimated one in five women experience symptoms of PPD at some point. Symptoms typically include low moods and tearfulness, changes in appetite (often including weight loss), fatigue, and insomnia. In addition to these physical aspects of the disorder, it can present with intense feelings of guilt or worthlessness for having “failed” their new baby- self-doubt over whether they’re doing enough parenting activities is shared too!

Psychotic Depression: 

Psychotic depression is a type of major depressive episode that includes psychotic symptoms and those typically associated with mood disorders. Symptoms may include hearing voices, visual hallucinations, and delusional thoughts.

Psychotic depression is a relatively rare type of major depressive episode. The lifetime prevalence rate in the United States has been estimated at just over 0.14%. People with psychotic symptoms are often diagnosed with schizophrenia, but they may also have the schizoaffective disorder or bipolar disorder (in which psychosis only occurs during manic episodes).

The Different Symptoms of Depression

Depression can be hard to understand. The symptoms of depression are often misunderstood and misdiagnosed. This leads to many people suffering for years because they don’t know how to get help or what’s wrong.

Symptoms of depression include feelings of sadness, worthlessness or guilt, decreased motivation, and energy for daily tasks. This is often accompanied by insomnia (difficulty falling asleep), excessive sleepiness or fatigue (feeling sleepy during the day), and changes in appetite that can lead to weight loss or gain. Depression symptoms are not just a result of stress but rather something much more severe–a medical condition with its own set of warning signs like all other diseases.

It’s essential to know the difference between feeling down occasionally because life isn’t going your way versus having a mood disorder such as major depressive disorder. You may need professional help from qualified mental health professionals if it disrupts your ability to function daily.

The effects of depression on sleep can be both physical and mental. The National Sleep Foundation indicates that an estimated 50% to 80% of people with major depressive disorder have disturbances in their circadian rhythms, which are the natural cycles that control when we feel sleepy or alert. Insomnia symptoms may also include waking up too early in the morning (before your alarm clock goes off), abnormal secretion patterns during sleep-wake periods, and more frequent nighttime awakenings resulting from vivid dreams or nightmares. These disruptions may lead a person who is depressed to feel tired during the day because they’re not getting enough deep restorative REM sleep at night.

How does Depression Affect Sleep?

Depression is common. It affects about one in five adults and about six percent of children over a year (NIMH). Depression can be caused by many factors, such as genetics or brain chemistry. People who live with depression may experience symptoms like difficulty thinking, changes in eating habits, inability to concentrate on tasks at work or school, sleep problems due to excessive worry during the day, or insomnia throughout the night. In some cases, people with untreated depression will die by suicide (National Institute for Mental Health).

People dealing with chronic pain also have an increased risk of developing mental health disorders, including depressive episodes, if they are not treated early enough (Chronic Pain: What Is Happening?). They might feel overwhelmed by the pain and how it has impacted their life and feel other negative emotions that can lead to depression, such as sadness or anger.

Depression may also affect sleep in different ways for each individual. Some people with more severe cases of depression might start sleeping less, so they have time to complete all the tasks on their mental list before bedtime (National Mental Health Association). Others might experience insomnia because they are too worried about what will happen during the day if they fall asleep early (NIMH). Sleep problems due to excessive worry during the day and insomnia throughout the night can be compounded by a person’s difficulty thinking clearly, which is a symptom of major depressive disorder (MDD) (NIMH). All of these sleep problems can make it difficult to function in your daily life.

Some people might have difficulty falling asleep because they constantly check their cell phone for updates, the latest drama on social media, or scrolling through Facebook and Instagram feeds in bed before going to sleep (NIMH). Other times insomnia may be due to other issues such as chronic pain, heartburn, indigestion, anxiety-provoking thoughts, or depression itself. To fall asleep more easily at night, you should plan to reduce physical activity during the day and turning off all electronics an hour before bedtime (NIMH). You also want to avoid drinking caffeinated drinks after about two p.m., eating large meals close to sleep, and staying up watching television all night.

If you do have depression, it can be hard to sleep because of the cognitive difficulties that come with depression or from side effects such as insomnia, irritability, agitation, and anxiety (NIMH). These physical symptoms may worsen your mood leading up to bedtime, adding more stress on top of feelings of hopelessness and sadness, which could make it difficult for you to fall asleep easily at night (NIMH). You want to try not going outside in natural light during the daytime hours so that you can maintain a regular sleeping pattern. 

How can we Improve our Sleep?

Suppose you are experiencing a sleep problem due to depression. In that case, it may be helpful to speak with your doctor about some of the following options: medication therapy, cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy for insomnia (CBTI), or stress management techniques.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness offers many different resources that could help people with mental illness and their families cope better. You might want to take advantage of free online programs like “Mind Your Mind,” where they provide information and tools on how to combat depression symptoms such as anxiety and sadness. They also offer phone consultations which can be helpful if you live in an area without qualified specialists nearby. They have a portal specifically designed for family members and caregivers of those with mental illness who may offer helpful advice.

It’s essential to know your limits and when it becomes necessary for you to ask for help. It will not diminish the person you are in any way, but rather show a willingness to take care of yourself and others around them who depend on their loved one not only mentally but physically too. If this does happen, be sure to reach out because there is hope! These methods have been proven effective, and while they may seem like everyday things, they can make a world of difference in someone’s life. 

Also See: Meditation for Sleep

FAQs Related to How Depression Affects Sleep:

What is the relationship between sleep and depression?

The relationship between sleep and depression is an important one. Those who are depressed may have disrupted sleep patterns, which can adversely affect their moods. Sleep deprivation itself has been shown to cause depressive symptoms in ordinary healthy people as well.

How can emotional problems affect sleep?

Emotional problems can affect sleep. Depression and anxiety are two emotional conditions that may lead to disrupted sleep patterns. The loss of a loved one can also disrupt your sleep, as well as feeling powerless or being in danger during the day.

Can lack of sleep affect mental health?

Lack of sleep can affect mental health. People who only get a few hours of sleep at night often have difficulty concentrating, may be irritable or anxious, and may experience mood disturbances such as depression or anxiety.

What Can I Do to Improve My Sleep?

There are many things that you can do to improve your sleep: 

  • Do not consume caffeine afternoon.
  • Practice good sleeping habits like going to bed at the same time each evening and waking up from the morning alarm clock rather than tempting fate with the snooze button.
  • Establish a regular daily exercise routine (even if it is just for 20 minutes per day).

What is sleep anxiety?

Sleep anxiety is a common sleep disorder that causes an individual to be worried about either not falling asleep or waking up at some point during the night.

  • This can lead to restlessness and insomnia, which can cause problems with daytime functioning such as reduced concentration and irritability.
  • It may also lead people who suffer from it to have difficulty sleeping on consecutive nights because they fear how they will function tomorrow if they do not get enough sleep tonight.


Understanding how depression affects sleep can help you provide better treatment for the patients. When symptoms of depression are not addressed, the effects on sleep and mood can worsen over time. We hope that this article has helped shed some light on these critical topics to all do our part in providing quality care to those struggling with mental illness.

See Also: How Obesity Affects Sleep