Iowa Sleep Blog

The Connection Between Depression and Sleep

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

It’s no secret that getting a good night’s sleep helps build both mental and emotional strength. What many don’t realize is that depression and sleep can be closely linked.

Depression affects nearly 20 million people in the United States each year. Depression and sleep can go hand in hand since depression can lead to sleep problems, and the inability to fall asleep can aggravate a depressive disorder. In honor of National Depression Screening Day (October 9) we’ve put together some facts and stats about the relationship between depression and sleep in both adults and teens.


One in four adults will suffer from an episode of depression before the age of 24, with women twice as likely as men to experience an occurrence. In fact, a Harvard Medical School study showed that 65 to 90 percent of adults with depression experience some kind of sleep problem. Insomnia, which makes it difficult not only to fall asleep, but stay asleep, is frequently a component of depression in adults. Those with sleep onset and sleep maintenance insomnia have the greatest risk of developing depression.

Adults who suffer from depression can improve their sleep by spending time outside during the day, as sunlight works to stabilize the body’s sleep cycles, making it easier to fall asleep at night. Maintaining a regular sleep schedule by getting up and going to sleep at the same times every day can help train your body to feel tired around your normal bedtime. Additionally, setting aside time to reflect on or journal about all the things that may be troubling you or running through your mind at night can also be helpful.


During the teenage years, the body goes through many changes that can initiate the onset of depression. These changes may also lead to troubled sleep cycles in teens ages 15 and older. Research shows teens are more likely to become depressed because they are spending less time sleeping and more time online. By staying up late at night and sleeping in, teens confuse their internal clocks and circadian rhythms. Many teens suffering from depression are also diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, the most common form of sleep disordered breathing. In other cases, teens with depression may sleep too much and can find it difficult to get out of bed in the morning.

If you or someone you know hasn’t been feeling like themselves – or has recently experienced problems sleeping, insomnia or feeling tired throughout the day – encourage them to schedule a depression screening. The wellness and mental health of your body have a direct connection with how well you sleep. Health screenings are a great way to get a look at your overall health. These screenings can help tell you when something is wrong or not working properly and allow you to take proactive steps to getting assistance as needed. At Iowa Sleep, we help all patients identify and address their sleep problems, including those linked with depression.

Learn more about National Depression Screening Day here