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THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SLEEP AND DEPRESSION

According to a report on Aviva[1], two-thirds of the UK’s adult population suffers from habitual lack of sleep.  More than a quarter of us get by on fewer than five hours’ sleep a night.

The most severely affected group is men over fifty-five years old.  Nearly thirty-seven per cent of us lack sleep[2] – and perhaps not surprisingly, the most common reason we give for it is STRESS.

Most of us who struggle with the odd night of sleep deprivation would agree that it leaves us a bit cranky the next day.  Just as children become irritable, difficult, sulky and sometimes downright hysterical when they’re ‘overtired’, so do we.  If a few nights’ disturbed sleep turns into a pattern of insomnia, though, we’re flirting with the biggest killer of adult males of this age group:  depression.

GET SOME SLEEP!

We need sleep – not just for our general health but as a natural, crucial mood-stabiliser, too.

One of the best ways to prevent depression is to talk our anxieties through with someone we trust.  Few of us men do that, though, and so more than a third of us shuffle off to our restless beds like lambs to the slaughter each night.

In the morning, we take an hour or so to let gravity work on our puffy, bloodshot eyes and pour strong coffee down our throats to meet the new day.  That’s how we feed the beast; we treat the symptoms and never the cause, until one day we find ourselves between the jaws of a full-blown depression.

DEPRESSION PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE

Lack of sleep can cause depression and vice versa.  Depression, anxiety, PTSD and panic disorder are all culprits of sleep theft (conversely, sometimes depression can cause oversleeping).  If you suspect that you’ve already slipped into this ‘chicken and egg’ quandary then you might need to find a pattern interruption to ‘reset’ your sleep balance.  A word of advice from your GP would be the best first step to breaking that vicious circle.

Depression is not something you can tackle on your own.  It won’t simply ‘go away’ – and if you were hoping that you could just ‘sleep it off’ like a bad hangover, let me remind you why you’re reading this article in the first place …

FOUR TIPS TO IMPROVE YOUR SLEEP AND TO KEEP DEPRESSION AT BAY:

  • Talk about the things that make you anxious with somebody you trust.
  • Don’t drink anything with caffeine in it for at least six hours before you go to bed.
  • Don’t drink alcohol just before you go to bed, either. ‘Nightcaps’ aren’t bright, chaps.
  • Keep your phone, laptop or tablet switched off when you’re in your bedroom. The light that emanates from electronic devices fools your brain into thinking that it’s daytime – and why would you want to see all of those worrying, stressy messages at bedtime in any case?

Of all of these, though, the most important is Number One:  talk about the things that make you anxious with somebody you trust.  Believe me, you’ll find that the pressure that’s been building up inside you for so long immediately lessens.  Keep talking it out; keep well.

[1] https://www.aviva.com/newsroom/news-releases/2017/10/Sleepless-cities-revealed-as-one-in-three-adults-suffer-from-insomnia/

[2] https://www.chemist-4-u.com/sleep-study/

 

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