Factsheets Depression and sleep

Depression affects the sleep-wake cycle and can lead to:

  • Difficulty getting to sleep
  • Poor quality sleep
  • Fewer hours of sleep
  • More awakening during the night
  • Waking very early in the morning; and
  • Daytime tiredness

Tips for restoring your sleep-wake cycle

  • Do not sleep during the day, even if you’re really tired – it only makes it harder to sleep at night.
  • Get up at a regular time, whether you’ve slept well or not – staying in bed confuses your body clock.
  • Do something that helps you relax before you get into bed. Solve problems at other times of the day.
  • Do active things outside in the early morning and late afternoon – being in the sunshine helps to set your body’s clock, and being active helps to make you tired.
  • Go to bed at the time you are usually getting to sleep. Then, if you are getting to sleep within about an hour, go to bed 10-15 minutes earlier each night. Keep doing that until you are getting the sleep you want.
  • If you are awake for more than about an hour, get out of bed and go to another room. Have some warm milk (without cocoa) or some calming herbal tea. Watch TV if you want (but don’t watch anything scary or violent). 
  • When you feel sleepy, go back to bed.
  • Cut down on coffee, tea and cola drinks, especially in the afternoon and evening - they have caffeine, which helps to keep you awake.
  • Avoid large meals and drinking lots of alcohol in the evening – they will disturb your sleep.
  • Sleeping pills may help you get to sleep, but you may wake up feeling tired. If you stop using sleeping pills after using them a lot, you may get vivid dreams and find it hard to sleep. That will stop happening once your body gets used to not having the pills. 
  • Avoid too many blankets and electric blankets – if you are too hot you do not go into a deep sleep.

Tips for restoring your sleep-wake cycle 

  • Depression affects one’s sleep-wake cycle and usually leads to:
  • Do not sleep during the day – it only makes it harder to sleep at night
  • Do not go to bed too early – it is not the right time for deep sleep
  • Avoid large meals, alcohol, tea, coffee, cola drinks and strenuous physical activities – they make it harder 
  • Try to be active in the early morning and late afternoon – it helps to set your body’s daily clock
  • Get up at a regular time – staying in bed only confuses your body clock
  • Minimise the use of sleeping tablets – they are not the solution in the long run
  • Try to relax before you get into bed – worrying in bed does not help
  • Do not watch TV late into the night – it keeps you awake when you should be asleep
  • Avoid too many blankets and electric blankets – if you are too hot you do not go into a deep sleep. You will also have more nightmares 
  • Keep a sleep-wake diary
 MonTueWedThuFriSatSun
Time of waking up       
Time of getting up       

Activities during the day
  Morning
  Afternoon
  Evening

       
Time of going to bed       
Time of going to sleep        
Number of hours asleep