Too sad to sleep

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Three clever scientists called Norifumi Tsuno, Alain Basset and Karen Ritchie reviewed all research done in English or French regarding sleep disorders from 1964 to 2005. They published a summary of this in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry in 2005. The title of their research was “Sleep and Depression”. It turns out that 90% of people suffering from depression report sleep disturbances whilst most insomniacs will experience depressive symptoms.

What the review of 205 research studies could not describe for sure was why there is such a strong link between insomnia and depression. Depression is linked to a change in sleep patterns. The sufferer will often start sleeping far less or far more than usual as well as reporting a feeling of extreme fatigue and decreased motivation. The evidence shows that REM sleep is greatly reduced in people suffering from depression. REM sleep helps to consolidate emotional human memories and prevent chronic mood disorders characterized by anxiety and depression.

The hard part is knowing what comes first. Do you start experiencing sleep disturbances and due to this develop depression? Or do you develop depression because you are not having adequate REM sleep? What is clear is that if you do have a sleep disturbance it may be necessary to treat both the mood and sleep components. What is essential is getting treatment to break the vicious cycle. With medical or alternative treatments both your sleep and mood should improve as well as your memory and close relationships.

One thing is for sure – we all need a good night’s sleep to be at our best. Here is to us all getting a good night!


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