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Down in the Dumps Part 7: 3 Ways to Improve Your Sleep When You Have Depression
Hello and welcome to my blog series: Down in the Dumps. This blog series was created to provide tips and suggestions for people who have been diagnosed with depression. As someone who struggles with depression on a daily basis, in this blog I will be providing tips on a variety of subjects including counselling, sleep, food, exercise, self care and more.
Do you count sheep at night with no luck? Or maybe do you oversleep, often sleeping through your alarm? You are not alone. The reality is that people with depression often have problems with their sleep. According to Harvard Health, studies estimate that 65% to 90% of adult patients with major depression experience some kind of sleep problem. In fact, the Canadian Mental Health Association of Ontario says that a common sign that someone is depressed is if they are having trouble sleeping or are sleeping more than usual. So here are three ways to improve your sleeping habits.
1. Establish a night time routine
As much as I love watching Netflix and YouTube until the wee hours of the morning, establishing a disciplined regular night time routine can really help you sleep better. Some ideas of things to add to your night time routine include turning off or putting away your phone a couple of hours before bed, making a to-do list for the following day, meditating, doing yoga and journaling. For more ideas on things to add to your night time routine, check out Healthy Sleep Habits in the Wellness section.
2. Take care of yourself
Whether you can’t sleep at night or want to sleep all the time, taking care of yourself is so important to improve your sleep quality. While taking care of your body and mind is often challenging when you are depressed, some habits you can develop to take care of yourself according to the Canadian Mental Health Association and mindyourmind include exercising regularly, getting fresh air, limiting alcohol and caffeine, limiting street drug usage, eating healthy foods, expressing yourself through creativity, and trying to go to bed early. Taking care of yourself when you are depressed is not an easy thing, so start small and work your way up. Even five minutes of exercise or going for a light ten-minute walk is still better than doing nothing at all.
3. Seek professional help
While building a night time routine and taking care of yourself are helpful sleeping habits, the reality is that sometimes, it’s just not enough. If you find that you are really having a hard time either going to sleep or waking up and nothing is helping, it may be time to seek professional help. My advice would be to start by booking an appointment with a doctor and they can recommend treatment options for you to improve your sleep, whether that is therapy, medication or another form of treatment.
The bottom line
Many people with depression experience sleep problems. Whether you have troubles falling asleep or just want to sleep all the time, these three tips can help you cope with your depression and improve your sleep.
As always, remember: you are strong, you are worthy, and you are capable of amazing things.
Anika is a student at Western University studying media studies and creative writing. After being diagnosed with anxiety, depression and a skin picking disorder in her first-year of university, she became an advocate for mental health awareness. When she is not studying or writing, she can be found baking, scrap-booking, playing video games, or watching movies and TV shows.
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