One of the most common symptoms of depression is insomnia. I know how it feels to go night upon night with no more than an hour or two in a light, disturbed sleep. This does nothing to help recovery from depression, and when you are trying to work, look after yourself and your family, there is nothing worse than starting off the day on the back foot. My husband, who also has depression, is also going through a torrid time with his sleep patterns at the moment, only snoozing for minutes at a time resulting in fatigue, and despondency. Although we both suffer with insomnia, the symptoms are very different. I am able to fall asleep as soon as my head touches the pillow, but wake after only 4 hours of shut-eye. My husband however, just can’t drop off at all. Fortunately, unlike me, he doesn’t seem to get irritable and stressed about the lack of sleep but takes it in his stride and vows to try again tomorrow night. There are many things you can do to improve your quality of sleep. Here are a few ideas which you can start with, before consulting your GP for further assistance;
- establish fixed times for going to bed and waking up (and avoid sleeping in after a poor night’s sleep),
- try to relax before going to bed,
- maintain a comfortable sleeping environment (not too hot, cold, noisy or bright),
- avoid napping during the day,
- avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol within six hours of going to bed,
- avoid exercise within four hours of bedtime (although exercise earlier in the day is beneficial),
- avoid eating a heavy meal late at night,
- avoid watching or checking the clock throughout the night, and
- only use the bedroom for sleep and sex.
If you have tried self-help and you are still experiencing problems sleeping, consult your GP who may recommend the following treatments (details courtesy of NHS Choices);
There is nothing worse than sleep deprivation and it is more common that you think. If you need help with your sleep, seek advice.