Sleep and Mood

While we know poor sleep can be associated with depression, anxiety, and other mental health concerns we often feel powerless to do anything about this. Christina Caron as a writer on the New York Times Well desk where she aims to share expert advice and reputable research in a useful and empathetic, helping others to live better lives. And, while she often write about depression, anxiety and other mental health problems, she also likes to focus on solutions.

In a recent piece she shared that Americans are chronically sleep deprived: one-third of adults in the United States say they get less than 7 hours a night. Teenagers fare even worse: About 70 percent of high school students don’t get enough sleep on school nights. She also shared that an analysis of 19 studies found that while sleep deprivation worsened a person’s ability to think clearly or perform certain tasks, it had a greater negative effect on mood. And when the National Sleep Foundation conducted a survey in 2022, half of those who said they slept less than 7 hours each weekday also reported having depressive symptoms. Some research even indicates that addressing insomnia may help prevent postpartum depression and anxiety. So what do we do about it?

Ms. Caron says “We’ve all heard how important it is to practice good sleep hygiene, employing the daily habits that promote healthy sleep. And it’s important to speak with your doctor, in order to rule out any physical problems that need to be addressed, like a thyroid disorder or restless legs syndrome. But this is only part of the solution. Conditions like anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and bipolar disorder can make it harder to sleep, which can then exacerbate the symptoms of mental illness, which in turn makes it harder to sleep well.”

But what else is there? In addition she came across “Say Goodnight to Insomnia” by Gregg D. Jacobs. The book, which uses C.B.T.-I. techniques, helped Emily to reframe the way she thought about sleep. She began writing down her negative thoughts in a journal and then changing them to positive ones. For example: “What if I’m never able to fall asleep again?” would become “Your body is made to sleep. If you don’t get enough rest one night, you will eventually.” These exercises helped her stop catastrophizing.

It may also be helpful to check out some apps with empirical support for efficacy in treating sleep and mood issues, specifically CBT-i Coach.