RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Researchers have known for years that depression can cause insomnia, trouble falling or staying asleep. But brand-new research on the connection between sleep and depression finds that the opposite is true as well: Chronic insomnia may increase your risk of becoming clinically depressed.
THE DETAILS: In a study of sleep and depression published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, researchers at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, identified 555 people who suffered from chronic insomnia. Four years later, the researchers found that this group was up to five times more likely to be depressed than those without insomnia. It should be noted that no one in the group of insomniacs suffered from depression at the beginning of the study period, suggesting that it was indeed the insomnia that led to the depression, rather than the other way around.
WHAT IT MEANS: A third of Americans report occasional bouts of insomnia, while 10 to 15 percent suffer from a chronic form of the condition. The consequences are not limited to daytime drowsiness. Insomnia can affect your physical health, work performance, and quality of life. And as this study makes clear, the condition can increase your risk of depression. The good news is that the data points to an interesting new strategy for preventing depression and helping people who are depressed. “Our results suggest that recognition and treatment of insomnia by healthcare providers may be critical for preventing or mitigating the occurrence of depression,” write the study authors.
Read on for advice to help you get better sleep.