For many patients, insomnia and depression are so interconnected that they are not sure which one they had first. Disrupted sleep patterns affect cognitive function, including mood. Conversely, feeling depressed can alter sleep patterns. Statistics show a high correlation between depression and sleep disorders, such as insomnia. Studies indicate that treating insomnia may relieve depression in many patients, demonstrating the close relationship of these two conditions.
In two studies, the researchers used cognitive behavioral therapy to treat the insomnia, instead of just offering standard sleeping advice. The cognitive behavioral therapy included an in-depth course in sleep hygiene, where participants learned better sleeping habits.
They were taught to establish consistent times for going to sleep and waking up, sleep the same amount every night, get out of bed during wakeful periods, not to read or watch TV in bed, not to nap during the day or try to catch up on lost sleep, not to have a clock near the bed, and other beneficial actions. This is more than the standard advice many doctors currently provide to patients that involves avoiding caffeine, alcohol, food, and exercise near bedtime.
The most recent study, conducted at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada, consisted of 66 patients who underwent cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia. After just four treatment sessions, 87 percent of the patients whose insomnia was relieved by the treatment also found relief from their symptoms of depression. This is twice as many as those who received no sleep benefits from the study.A 2008 study conducted at Stanford University with 30 patients had similar findings. In the study, all patients were given an antidepressant pill to treat their depression. One group also underwent behavioral therapy using in-depth sleep hygiene information to treat the insomnia, while the control group was only given the standard sleeping advice. The participants who had the cognitive behavioral therapy had 60 percent rate of recovery from their depression, compared to only 33 percent in the control group.
Important Information On Insomnia
These two small studies provide important information for the future of treatment of depression and insomnia. Similar studies are currently being undertaken at Standard University, Duke University, and the University of Pittsburgh, financed by the National Institute of Mental Health.
Although the findings are still under review, they demonstrate that treating depression and sleep problems together can make a huge difference for a patient’s recovery. Additionally, they show that the best way to treat insomnia is through cognitive behavioral therapy rather than the traditional sleep advice.
Whether or not sleep completely cures depression, it provides numerous benefits. Sleep is very important to the overall function of the human body, including the brain. Studies have shown there are many health benefits of sleep, including cleansing the brain of toxins, rejuvenating the body, helping with weight loss, improving the immune system, and being essential to overall health and wellbeing.
Ideal Sleep Habits
The optimal amount of sleep is between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night for adults. Ideally, you should maintain the same bedtime and wake time every day, even on days you can stay up late or sleep in. Additionally, too much sleep can be just as unhealthy as lack of sleep.
Engaging in healthy sleep habits is a beneficial addition to the treatment plan for any type of illness, including mental disorders such as depression, even if it does not cure it completely. A good night’s sleep provides a healthy foundation for both the body and mind, promoting optimal health.
Jared Friedman has spent years of experiencing working at dual diagnosis treatment centers and is currently focused on depression treatment at Sovereign Health Group.