Sleep Deprivation & Depression What is the link – Dr. Sulata Shenoy

Depression is more common than you might think, and depression and sleep issues may go hand-in-hand.

Over 16 million people in the United StatesTrusted Source have some form of depression, and over 75 percent of people with depressionTrusted Source have some form of sleep disorder. Sleep disorders may also increase your risk of developing symptoms of depression.

But the relationship between sleep and depression is complex. Let’s get into the gritty details and discuss some treatments and lifestyle changes you can make to help improve your symptoms.

What’s the connection?

Depression and sleep are linked in an interesting way. Depression symptoms can affect your sleep, and symptoms of sleep disorders like sleep apnea or insomnia may also lead to depression.

Does depression affect your sleep?

The effect that depression has on sleep is well-documentedTrusted Source. One of the most common symptoms of depression is sleep disturbance. Up to 70 percent of people with depression have some sort of sleep disturbance. This can take the form of either:

Insomnia. This sleep disorder makes it difficult to fall sleep or stay asleep for long periods of time.
Hypersomnia. Also called excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS), hypersomnia causes you to feel abnormally sleepy throughout the day, even if you’ve gotten plenty of sleep.

Does sleep have any effect on depression?

The link is becoming clearer. For example, a 2005 studyTrusted Source found that insomnia increased your likelihood of depression symptoms nearly 10 times. A 2009 reviewTrusted Source of sleep apnea studies noted a strong correlation between obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and depression symptoms.

Perhaps less well understood is the link in the other direction: The effect that sleep has on depression.

Are insomnia and depression connected?

Let’s go a little deeper into this connection. First, it’s well known that insomnia is a common symptom of depression.

But research increasingly shows that the connection between insomnia and depression is a two-way street. A 1997 study found that both insomnia and hypersomnia were connected to a higher rate of suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Insomnia itself increases your risk of developing depression symptoms 10 times over.

And a 2006 study of nearly 25,000 people drew a clear link between depression and getting too little sleep (less than 6 hours), as well as too much sleep (more than 8 hours).

Are sleep apnea and depression connected?

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is also linked to depression.

A 2003 studyTrusted Source of nearly 19,000 participants found that depression increased the risk of developing a sleep disorder with breathing symptoms by five times. A 2009 review noted that in samples of people being treated at sleep clinics for OSA, anywhere from 21 percent to 41 percent also showed depression symptoms. And a 2017 sleep studyTrusted Source of 182 people found that, out of 47 participants who had depression, 44 had mild to severe OSA.

The risk of developing depression from OSA may also increase as you get older. A 2005 study suggests that at least 26 percent of people over 65 with OSATrusted Sourcehave notable symptoms of depression.

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