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Understanding the Link between Insomnia and Depression

Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning - Gloria Steinem

There is a clear link between insomnia and depression which many people, including mental heath professionals, can’t understand.

It can seem like a chicken and egg situation. Does insomnia contribute to depression or vice versa?

Do you have trouble getting to sleep at night or do you find you fall asleep OK, wake early and then can’t get back to sleep?

You might be surprised to learn the big sleep thief, the pesky bandit that robs you of good quality sleep is….worry!

Repairing the software and hard drive

Excessive worry is actually the real link between insomnia and depression.

A major job of our dreams at night is to neutralise the emotional arousal of the previous day. So the more anxious, worried or fearful we are in the daytime, the more we must dream at night to clear the software of the brain to tackle the problems of the next day……. to keep us sane!

At night we have different levels of sleep which fall largely into two types, REM sleep which is our dreaming sleep and the deeper, more restful slow wave sleep. This deeper sleep is also necessary for our physical refreshment, the hard drive.

Draining the energy batteries

When we have high emotional arousal during the day with worries and anxious thoughts, there is a lot for our brains to unravel at night. So we dream and dream and don’t have the chance to sink into that deeper sleep for very long. Actually dreaming is quite hard work, we use up a lot of calories during dreaming sleep.

So here’s the clear explanation for why we can go to bed and seem to sleep all night and still wake up shattered in the morning!

Simply put, the more we worry in the day, the more shallow our sleep at night so we begin the next day feeling already tired and worn out.

So, stop worrying and start sleeping!

The philosophy of sleep

I read something about the philosophy of sleep recently. The opening chapter read:

“Bearing in mind there are billions of people on the planet and billions of people have lived here for millions of years. Bearing in mind that, even with good fortune you are not likely to live more than one hundred years, if your worries are keeping you awake at night… you’re taking yourself way too seriously! “

Do you have trouble sleeping? How does it affect your day? Let us know below…

Frances Masters

Frances Masters is a BACP accredited psychotherapist with over 30,000 client hours of experience. Follow her @fusioncoachuk, or visit The Integrated Coaching Academy for details about up coming training.