5 Sleep Tips that Can Help with Depression

JAN. 12, 2018

By Sarah Cummings


We all feel a little blue from time to time. Sadness is a fundamental part of the human condition. For the majority, feeling down is often a temporary experience connected to specific events. For others, a sense of sadness or hopelessness can be more persistent—this is what we all know as depression.

Depression is a serious condition that affects every aspect of a person’s life, from their appetite to what they think and feel to their ability to sleep. Treatment for depression differs from person to person and can involve therapy and medications, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and antidepressants. While the pros and cons of certain treatments are regularly debated, what isn't up for debate is the affect a healthy sleep routine can have on a person experiencing depression.

The relationship between sleep and mental illness, specifically depression, is complicated. Some people find they can’t sleep at all, while others find they can’t stop sleeping. It’s not consistent for everyone. But everyone experiencing depression should work to improve and regulate their sleep because there are only benefits to be had. So, here are some tips to help improve your sleep, and with it, your mood.

Turn Your Bedroom into a Sleep Sanctuary

Your bedroom should be a dedicated Zen palace of sleep. Too much noise, light or distraction can make sleep harder. So, make your room as dark as possible. Blackout curtains or blinds can be a helpful investment. If environmental noises bother you, then experiment with a “white noise” generator to drown them out. Ensure your mattress is up to the job. Laying down each night on an old, saggy or squeaking bed can inhibit your ability to sleep.

If you can't sleep, don't just lie there tossing and turning—get up and move to another room. Do something low key like reading a book or listening to some music. Then, when you are ready, return to your bedroom to sleep. This way, your brain will begin to associate your bed (and bedroom) purely with sleep and not sleep problems.

Keep a Regular Bedtime

Getting into a regular sleeping routine is easier said than done when living with depression. But the benefits of heading to bed and waking at the same time every day—weekends included—is enormous. Some of those benefits include being able to wake up more easily in the morning and feeling more energized and focused throughout the day. Research has found that keeping a consistent bedtime is just as important as the length of time a person sleeps. Our brains respond well to routines and keeping the same routine will help combat feelings of lethargy.        

Get into a Bedtime Routine

Avoid starting any difficult or potentially stressful tasks close to bedtime. Allow at least an hour before bed to slow down and unwind before even trying to lay your head on the pillow. This means avoiding any devices with screens. The blue light they emit overstimulates the mind and suppresses melatonin production, a hormone that promotes sleep. Plus, watching movies or scrolling through social media may lead to increased levels of stress. Try reading a book or magazine instead of reading posts and news online.

Start Exercising Regularly

Regular exercise is great for anyone with depression, or any stress-related condition, and it helps when trying to get into a normal sleep routine. Double win! Exercise releases endorphins—the body's natural antidepressant—which can seriously improve your mood. So, get into an exercise routine. This can be as simple as walking for at least 30 minutes a day, attending a yoga class or just doing some jumping jacks in your garden.

Go Outside Every Day

I know it can be tough to drag yourself out into the world. Somedays, you just want to lock yourself away and see nobody. But fight that feeling and get outside. Sunlight is full of Vitamin D, which is a great mood enhancer. Not only that, seeing the sun frequently helps your circadian rhythms recalibrate and get back into a rhythm. If you truly can't face the outside world, at least open your curtains and let the day come to you.

Depression is tough, and while the steps above all look simple, we know that when that big black dog is on your back, nothing is simple.

If you’re experiencing depression, remember there are people out there to talk to. Don’t suffer in silence. Speak to a health care professional, a friend, a family member or even a stranger who has been through similar experiences. Getting your worries out in open is the first step on the road to good health.


Hey everyone, I’m Sarah and I’m a sleep expert. When I’m not promoting the benefits of a nice night between the sheets, I love walking our dog Kip. Yup, I really do love sleep that much ;)


JUL, 28, 2018 10:59:42 AM
I have been suffering from chronic depression for nearly a year now and this article really highlights the most major issue for me personally. Sleep is the only thing I look forward to anymore - I sleep a lot and feel tired by doing the littlest things... which makes me feel worse about myself and therefore more tired. I've taken to napping during the day as well as sleeping at night. It is very nice to hear that I really am not making it all up in my head and that others experience this with depression too. It's nice to hear that some people understand. Thank you.

FEB, 02, 2018 03:09:45 PM
diane barnett
I am averaging between 2-5hours of interrupted sleep since I went off my ambien and trazadone around 5 months ago(this was upon the doctors approval). after several years of severe depression I am now doing well and a Peer Specialist working in a Respite Program. I don't know if my job, which triggers me as people share what they are presently going through, into remembering my own trauma is causing the ever increasing lack of sleep. When I do sleep, I have repetitive nightmares of getting sick again and rehospitalized.And of having my children being taken away. I have tried Melatonin, but it is not effective. Any suggestions?

FEB, 01, 2018 01:45:03 PM
Ronald Jones
Thanks for this.

FEB, 01, 2018 10:24:24 AM
Jo Ann Marianne
Thanks for the important reminders. These steps are critical and often hard to maintain but keeping them in front of mind helps.

FEB, 01, 2018 12:19:43 AM
I wake up every hour with nightmares.

JAN, 31, 2018 10:21:10 PM
Leonard McCray
Great article. It's 9:14 pm CST and I am violating the suggestion to start winding down at a reasonable time. I typically don't start doing things until 10:00 pm which sets me up for not going to sleep until 5:00 am the next morning. I am a retired Navy veteran and have been dealing with depression since 1993 while I was on active duty. Sleep problems started in 2013 after my only son was murdered. It would be great to get on a better wake/sleep cycle. I will start adopting the suggestions into my daily routine.

JAN, 30, 2018 01:54:35 PM
lashan d stephens
Very good article . I did not realize that sleeping patterns could have so much to do with depression. The article gave very helpful tips to improve sleeping patterns.

JAN, 24, 2018 10:47:34 PM
Thanks for this!

JAN, 24, 2018 10:47:09 PM

JAN, 23, 2018 12:47:37 PM
Sue Burt
Very positive and encouraging advice indeed. I agree entirely. I found a certain drug for depression actually caused insomnia!? It was only after some months that it did this and the dosage needed to be increased gradually. But it really put me off. I find fresh air very stimulating and refreshing but in the winter I find that walking outdoors every day rather a challenge. I try to walk outdoors as often as I can none the less! Also not having the bedroom too hot at night and leaving the window on the latch works for me. I tend to overheat in bed. I have been diagnosed with PTSD. But feel I may have BPD. Also I find lighting that is not too bright at night much more calming. 😊 I love Fairy Lights!!!😌☺️🙂🙃

JAN, 19, 2018 10:18:16 PM
Beverly D Hughes
I struggle with Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder along with Sleep Apnea. I am usually wide awake at 3 am even after taking my night medications, which are sedating, at 8 pm. Waking up can go either way. It is so hard to force a regular cycle. There are so many times that my mental concept of time is impossibly off. It isn't easily understood and I know it is difficult to deal with in a relationship.

JAN, 16, 2018 04:29:54 PM
Carole Lunardelli
I will use this info with my friends and clients(I am an addiction/mental health nurse)that are experiencing depression/other mental health diagnoses.

JAN, 16, 2018 04:22:58 PM
Lizanne Corbit
Wonderful, helpful read. Sleep and depression always have a tricky relationship but having good, healthy sleep is so important for being able to cope with depression. Lack of sleep can bring even the most upbeat person down. I love your recommendations for getting into a routine, making your bedroom a zen space and getting outdoors!

JAN, 14, 2018 12:38:49 AM
Riggs Nathalie
My husband has very severe depression ,he got hospitalized for ir before Christmas and the marriage is difficult, partially from it and I need all the help I can get as I am cracking up myself,feeling often not ,loved,so rejected,my resentment is sadly big.

JAN, 13, 2018 10:56:56 PM
I'm outside every day/exercise-with weights every day still a very angry person-I fall asleep very fast

JAN, 13, 2018 12:09:30 AM
Araceli Ruvalcaba
Quisiera saber si su servicio lo asen en Los Angeles ca

JAN, 12, 2018 11:53:59 PM
Kim Ausburn
I am diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder and I'm currently experiencing sleep problems. I can't get to sleep or stay asleep. This is usually my first indicator that something is up. I am scared and need to hear about others experience.

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