Ahhh. Sweet sleep. Restorative, life-enhancing sleep. Sleep that, when it doesn’t come easily, can make us obsess over it. Sleep, that wonderful state that so often eludes us. When we don’t get enough sleep, nights become a pillow-pushing, cover-wrestling, leg-kicking nightmare. And sometimes the lack of it goes hand in hand with depression.

Or maybe it’s the other way around. Maybe your depression causes sleep problems. It’s hard to know which came first, the chicken or the egg. The relationship between sleep and depression is a complex one. Interrupted sleep can affect you emotionally and even lead to depression and anxiety. And depression and anxiety can lead to disrupted sleep.

Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

Probably not. Who is? But the fact remains, that for most people, 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep are required to keep you mentally and physically fit. Otherwise your energy level and your emotional well-being are at risk.

Even your happiness can be at risk, although you might not think lack of sleep is the reason. But if you lose a little bit of sleep each night, over time your may find your enthusiasm for life wane. You may be more irritable or unhappy. You may even suffer symptoms of clinical depression—inability to concentrate, a sense of hopelessness, bottomless sadness.

Why Do You Need So Much Sleep?

Sleep is restorative. Or rather, REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep is restorative. And that is only about 20 percent of your sleeping time. If the REM segment of your sleep cycle is interrupted, even one night, your body won’t follow its normal sleep pattern. The result could be any one or more of the following:

You can’t fall asleep.

You can’t stay asleep.

You wake up too early.

You oversleep.

You need to sleep during the day.

You wake up feeling tired.

Studies show that if you are depressed and have sleep problems too, treating those problems can help mitigate your depression.

Next week we’ll talk about how to get better sleep.

Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: http://www.nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact-us.

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