Depression and sleep problems are linked.

We’ve all had sleepless nights. But depression and sleep problems are linked. In 2011, it was estimated that 90% of people suffering from depression had trouble sleeping because of underlying issues of anxiety, despair, and fear. Mood is affected when you can’t sleep well.
Here’s 5 tips for a good night’s sleep when dealing with depression:

  1. Set up a worry time.  Anxiety is a tough emotion to overcome. Anxiety keeps your mind active with thoughts that are self-defeating and destructive. Set up a ‘worry time’. Worry time is 30 minutes every day, at the same time, when you let yourself intensely worry about everything that is bothering you. The 30 minutes is time you allow the Darkness to scream at you. BUT at the end of that 30 minutes, you MUST say, “I listened to you, but now I release you from my thoughts until tomorrow, when at this same time I’ll listen to you again.” If you do this before going to bed, it will act as a release valve for your mind and condition your thoughts to settle down. If you wake up in the middle of the night, or toss and turn, remind yourself that ‘worry time’ will be waiting for you to go over everything.

  2. Don’t label yourself. Frustrated because you can’t sleep? Don’t start calling yourself stupid or other degrading names. It’s okay that you can’t fall asleep. That’s depression. When you’re sick with a cold, you don’t call yourself stupid every time you sneeze, right? Same idea. Beating depression means you have to recognize what part is you and what part is despair, anxiety and fear. If it’s anxiety keeping you awake say, “Anxiety! You’re not part of me. You’re something out there, that’s affecting me now but sooner than later you’ll be gone. And I’ll still be here, loving myself.”

  3. Learn to relax. Depression and sleep mean tense muscles. It’s not just a clenched jaw or grinding teeth, but stiffness and soreness that makes getting out of bed difficult. There are several tricks to make your muscles quickly relax. One is to clench your fists, feel the tension for a few short seconds, then quickly relax your hands and allow the tension to escape. Do the same for your jaw, arms, abdomen, and legs. Take a d-e-e-p, slow breath. Let yourself feel the air inside you before you exhale. Curl your toes on the carpet (you’ll be surprised how good it feels and how relaxed you get!)

  4. Create a sleep environment. Dealing with depression and sleep means your bedroom has to be ‘anxiety proofed.’ You baby proof things around the house when you have a baby, right? So you need to anxiety proof your bedroom. Remove ticking clocks because they’re constant reminders about the time. Muffle loud noises. Tell your boyfriend, husband, or kids to take down the volume on electronic devices or to use headphones. Make your room dark. Having the street lamp shine in just keeps you awake. The neighbour’s dog or cat might keep you awake one night. Talk to your neighbour the next day and see if something can be arranged so the animal won’t howl beneath your window.

  5. Develop bedtime rituals. Bedtime rituals remind you its time to sleep. It tells your brain, “I am getting ready to sleep now.” It’s amazing how a simple ritual can condition your mind. This can be many things – brushing your teeth, taking a warm shower or bath, saying your prayers or meditating. Even getting your bed ready is a ritual that tells you, “Hey, I’m going to sleep now. I will get some sleep in my nice, warm, comfortable bed,” as opposed to falling asleep on the sofa.

These tips for dealing with depression and sleep may not work for you. Don’t get upset if you continue to think at night. See your doctor or medical professional for help. There are all sorts of sleep aids such as medications, relaxation and sleep CDs, and aromatherapy lotions and sprays. Remember to be patient and kind to yourself!

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