The Link Between Depression And Sleep

Kirk Parsley
October 6, 2021

Ready for some startling facts??

  •  75 percent of people who suffer from depression also have insomnia.
  •  If you have insomnia, you’re 10x more likely to develop depression.

There is a link between depression and sleep. Historically, insomnia has been thought of as secondary to depression – ie: You became depressed, and as a result, your ability to sleep well is thrown off course.

But could things actually be the other way around? Could poor sleep be making you depressed?

Whether you have experienced depressive episodes yourself or have a loved one who has, you know it’s a fully consuming illness. The degree in which depression affects someone is completely individual. There is no exact answer as to how depression is triggered and it continues to be an area of vast research. It can be triggered through traumatic and highly stressful events and some can be more susceptible through genetics.

What is depression?

There are three main neurotransmitters that play a critical role in the communication between neurons. Those are serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Feeling hopeless, joyless, disappointed, and sad daily are all commonly associated with depression. Although these are all normal human emotions that can be encountered daily, it becomes an issue when these are felt for weeks at a time and linger throughout the entire day.

Symptoms may include:

  • Insomnia, waking up too early, or oversleeping
  • Decreased energy and fatigue
  • Slow speech/movement
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities
  • Persistent sad, low, or irritable mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, or guilt
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Low appetite or overeating
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Encountering an extreme decreased sensation of joy going through daily activities that once brought feelings of joy and contentment is a feeling no one should have to face. It’s no way to go through life.

To no surprise, I am here to share that one of the major factors in the onset of depression is sleep. There are several reasons for that because depression isn’t a simple thing. You may have loved ones or know someone who has been prescribed antidepressant and other treatments that require several doctor visits and constant evaluation. 

Depression itself is a change in neurochemistry. The main question is, does something cause the change in neurochemistry that then triggers depression or is it depression that causes the change in neurochemistry? The answer is yes to all the above, but it’s not that simple.

Serotonin is one of the main hormones when we are talking about depression. 

What is Serotonin?

Serotonin is the key hormone that stabilizes our mood, feelings of well-being, and happiness. It enables brain cells and other nervous system cells to communicate with each other. It also has a role with sleeping, eating, and digestion

Low serotonin levels are associated with depression.

Sleep Physiology & Depression

If we think about the physiology of sleep and how our bodies prepare for sleep, as the blue light decreases in our eyes it initiates neurological changes to let our bodies know it’s time to begin preparing for sleep. It is now that the melatonin production pathway begins, which is commonly referred to as the starter pistol for our sleep cycles. 

What is the melatonin production pathway? Sleep begins and ends with the melatonin production pathway.  First, Tryptophan becomes 5 Hydroxytryptophan with the help of magnesium and  Vitamin D3, which then becomes serotonin. Serotonin becomes melatonin. Melatonin decreases our brain’s sensitivity to stress hormones and initiates our sleep cycle. Learn more about Sleep Remedy and how its ingredients replenish the essential nutrients required for deep, rejuvenating sleep. 

When you look at the chemistry involved in sleep, melatonin actually comes from serotonin. 

So, if you are experiencing chronic sleep deprivation, insomnia, and experiencing increased stress levels, meanwhile your body is trying to produce melatonin, it’s going to begin stripping the serotonin from your brain. The result is low serotonin levels, which impacts quality and quantity of sleep and therefore puts people at a higher risk to develop depression.

Neuroinflammation & Depression

Another thing we know of that is associated with depression is neuroinflammation, which is swelling of the brain. This happens when there is toxic build up in the brain. It can be a result of some type of trauma like a car accident or even contact sports, like football and boxing. Metabolic disorders can also cause toxin build up.

The word toxin can be a heavy word when we associate it with the brain, but it is a very normal occurrence as we go throughout our day. However, the key here is that these toxins will get flushed out of the brain with adequate sleep. If these toxins don’t get properly handled, the immune system will start fighting them as if they were a threat. As a result, the neurochemistry in the brain begins to change due to the different signaling molecules entering, basically changing the way the brain works.

Stress & Depression

Stress is a major contributor to a multitude of disorders and diseases. Not getting adequate sleep increases our stress hormones and again, changes the neurochemistry of the brain. Having elevated stress hormones is associated with depression.

Getting adequate sleep decreases stress hormones.

There is an obvious link between depression and sleep. There are a lot of things we still don’t know in the realm of depression, but there is one thing we know for a fact; getting adequate sleep every night can mitigate all diseases and illnesses. The power of getting  deep, rejuvenating sleep every night works wonders on the mind and body. It is the single most effective thing you can do to reset your brain and body health.

In addition to talking to a doctor about treatments for depression, there are several things you can do to boost your mood and lessen the load depression can carry:

  • Prioritize Sleep:  Ensure you don’t have any nutrient deficiencies associated with getting the sleep you need to heal. Sleep Remedy is designed to replenish those essential nutrients for sleep Go to bed and wake up at the same time to maintain an optimal circadian rhythm
  • Movement: Get outdoors and move. Dance to your favorite song. Soak up the sunlight, even if it’s just walking for 15 min a day. It will boost your mood and improve physical health. If you enjoy more intense exercise, do that, too!
  • Community: You’re never alone, even on the days that feel the most lonely and isolating. Always seek friends, family, support groups, and professionals to talk to. so remember that you’re not alone. Spend time with others, even if it’s the last thing you feel like doing, talk about what you’re experiencing, and refrain from isolating yourself.
  • Remain Hopeful: Even with effective treatment, symptoms of depression may improve gradually. Consistency is the key. Do the little things that spark a light in you. 

Having depression can increase thoughts of suicide. If you or someone you know is in crisis, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline


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