World Sleep Day: Study links depression to poor sleep habits
We all know that a bad night’s sleep can affect your mood the next day, but conversely, getting eight hours of adequate sleep can make you feel unbeatable. But just how strong is the link between sleep and mental health?a new poll National Sleep Foundation (opens in a new tab) (NSF) has been studying this question, and the results are clear: There is a strong correlation between poor sleep and depression.
National Science Foundation’s annual sleeping on american polls (opens in a new tab) has been in operation for 25 years, making it one of the longest-running records of perceptions, attitudes, and trends about sleep health in the United States. As organizations such as the CDC and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recognize mental health as a critical issue, this year NSF saw the need to explore the link between sleep health and mental health conditions like depression.
The headline numbers provide strong evidence: Poll finds that 65% of adults who are dissatisfied with their sleep also have mild or worse symptoms of depression, while half of adults who sleep less than the NSF recommended 7-9 hours a night Also experience mild or more intense depressive symptoms.
Looking more closely at the data, the poll reports that adults who sleep fewer than seven hours a night on weekdays are three times more likely to experience moderate to severe depressive symptoms than those who sleep the recommended seven to nine hours .
Not only does not getting enough sleep every night affect your mental health; the study also found that people who had trouble falling asleep or staying asleep just two nights a week tended to have more severe symptoms of depression than those who didn’t.
On the bright side, however, the NSF poll also showed that more than 90 percent of adults with healthy sleep behaviors reported good sleep health and no significant symptoms of depression. Altogether, the poll reported a strong association between healthy sleep behaviors and good mental health, suggesting that levels of depressive symptoms decrease as sleep-promoting behaviors increase.
Now, there is reason to point out here that correlation is not the same as causation. Many factors beyond sleep can have an impact on mental health, and it may be just as reasonable to think that a mental health issue could be the cause of poor sleep; if you suspect anxiety is causing your insomnia, our guide to improving sleep while anxious is a good place to start.
But having said that, if changing your sleep habits has the potential to reduce your chances of depression and improve your general mental health, then it’s something worth pursuing. So what can you start now to get better sleep?
How to Change Your Sleep Habits
Fortunately, there are many options. Starting with the sleep basics, the most immediate cause of poor sleep quality is often the bed you’re sleeping in (or failing to sleep in). By investing in the best mattress for your sleeping style, along with the best set of pillows, you can make an immediate difference in the quality of your sleep, and it probably won’t cost you as much as you might expect, especially if you take advantage of regular mattress sales.
But if your bed isn’t an issue, there are still plenty of things you can do to improve your sleep. For Sleep Week 2023, we’ve put together a curated selection of the best sleep tips and explanations, ranging from simple tips to help you fall asleep faster and enjoy a more restful night’s sleep, to more general sleep advice and using a sleep tracker and Tips for other tools and more A device that gives your sleep a technological boost.
be your best sleeper
NSF’s Best Slept Self program is a great place to start. It includes six steps—three to use during the day and three at night—that together help you become the best sleeping version of yourself:
- Light: Make sure you stay in bright light during the day.
- exercise: Try to exercise regularly, ideally five days a week for 30 minutes a day.
- dining time: Eat meals at a fixed time every day.
- avoid: Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and heavy meals before bed.
- ease: Have a consistent, relaxing relaxation routine before bed.
- environment: Put down your electronic devices an hour before bedtime and fall asleep in a dark, quiet and cool environment.
This article is part of TechRadar Sleep Week 2023 Celebrations (running until Saturday, March 19th), a week-long slumber of all things. We’ll bring you proven techniques and tips to help you sleep better, bringing together all the top techniques to improve your sleep.