Sleeping well at night can help ease the symptoms of depression. However, the opposite is also true – if you’re not getting enough sleep, your depression may be difficult to manage. Or you might be sleeping poorly because you’re depressed. Together, sleep and depression’s close ties can create a cycle that’s hard to break.
So what can you do to get better sleep and, in turn, help with depression?
1. Plan for a good night’s sleep during the day. Sleep isn’t just about what you do at night — what you do during the day can either positively or negatively impact how well you rest that night. There are several ways to prepare your mind and body for a good night of sleep. Try to get outside everyday. Did you know that sunlight keeps your natural sleep-wake rhythm on track? You should also exercise daily, avoiding doing so too close to bedtime. And if you choose to nap, keep it to 20-30 minutes in the early or middle part of the afternoon.
2. Keep it boring. Boring is best when it comes to your bedtime routine. Overstimulation can delay your wind-down time, as can starting a new, involved task or having a stressful conversation. Going to bed at the same time and waking up at the same time everyday can feel dull, but remember that you can switch things up in other areas of your life. Allowing your mind and body to get used to the boring bedtime routine will help you in the long run. Getting enough rest, especially when dealing with depression, is extremely important — more so than staying up late watching tv or mindlessly scrolling through social media.
3. Get out of bed. If you’re not tired and just find yourself tossing and turning, get out of bed and leave your bedroom to read, meditate, listen to music or relax. Once you’re sleepy, get back into bed. This will help you and your brain associate your bed and bedroom with restful sleep, rather than sleep problems.
Depression is tough, and when dealing with depression and sleep difficulties, the challenges can feel overwhelming. While getting plenty of rest is always important, it’s not always that easy. Seeking professional help could be the key to feeling better.