We all know that 8 hours of sleep is ideal each night, but who has that kind of time?
In our fast paced society, people are finding it difficult to rest and restore, and the consequences are obvious. Stress, irritability, and chronic fatigue plague a large percentage of our population.
Sleep is a time for your brain and body to repair the damages of the day. Everyone needs sleep to function, and new studies are showing even further advantages for those suffering from depression.
This mental illness, or mood disorder, is characterized by sadness, decreased interest in and pleasure from activities, sleep and eating pattern disturbances, an inability to concentrate, feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness, and even suicidal thoughts, ideation, and attempts.
For depression to be diagnosed, most of these symptoms need to be occurring each day, for most of the day, consistently for at least one week.
Most people with depression feel that pharmaceutical medications are necessary to ever feel better, but sleep therapy may be more effective than any pill man can create. As our natural, built-in form of recovery, sleep works wonders.
Sleep Therapy for Depression
The National Institute of Mental Health plans to finance four studies on the subject, with the first study now completed with tangible results. The initial study worked toward curing the insomnia of people suffering from depression.
The research team at Ryerson University in Toronto reports that all 66 patients in this study were exposed to talk therapy, and were given either an antidepressant or a placebo, of course without knowledge of which they were receiving. The goal was to address insomnia over an 8-week time period.
Patients participated in talk therapy biweek for the 8-week study in the form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia, abbreviated CBT-I. Therapists encouraged patients to set regular bedtime and rise times, to monitor food and drink intake, and to engage in other ways to increase healthy sleep.
The results show that 87% of the CBT-I patients who slept better at night, meaning those who essentially overcame their insomnia, also saw a great reduction in their symptoms of depression.
The Future of Sleep Therapy for Depression
The three follow-up studies are planned, and similar studies are also taking place at Stanford, Duke, and the University of Pittsburgh.
According to Dr. Colleen E. Carney, the lead author from Ryerson University, the need for further research, and for studies with higher patient counts, are much-needed, but the first study’s findings are promising. In her words, “The way this study is unfolding, I think we need to start augmenting standard depression treatment with therapy focused on insomnia.”
For those who find success with the use of an antidepressant, Dr. Carney suggests also adding CBT-I to the treatment plan. The combination of medication and talk therapy is what will keep progress consistent, and is what will continue to combat disrupted sleep patterns, among other things, that keep people unhealthy.
Sleep therapy is an effective tool in fighting the symptoms of depression. How are you sleeping?
Jared Friedman has years of experience in mental health recovery and currently specializes in depression treatment at Sovereign Health.