Insomnia And Depression: Cause vs Effect?

New studies show insomnia could be a cause of depression.

Posted Dec 17, 2013

The importance of quality sleep cannot be overstated. Arguably, sleep is the single most important aspect of maintaining a healthy mind and body. However, 18 million Americans suffer from insomnia, and about 9 million Americans take sleeping pills. Most people don't view insomnia as a health problem so they generally do not visit a doctor to get to the root of the problem. Instead, they turn to the pharmacy.

Depression and insomnia often accompany each other, and up until recently, insomnia was considered merely a symptom of depression. Conventional thinking was that if you treated the depression, the insomnia went away.

Now, new research is indicating otherwise. The correlation between depression and insomnia is complex, but with recent studies, we are learning that depression might actually be caused by insomnia. Since sleep disorders have become a specialty, more studies are in the works focusing on the strain and destruction that continued loss of sleep can have on mind and body.

The aim of CBT-I is to change sleep habits and schedules which may be unknowingly promoting insomnia. CBT-I consists of weekly visits to a clinician who, after administering sleep assessments and evaluating a patient's sleep diary, begins sessions to change negative sleep habits.

This change of habits could be anything from eliminating naps and not exercising at night to avoiding caffeine, alcohol and tobacco before bed. Got problems? Who doesn't? CBT-I teaches an insomniac not to stress over these issues at bedtime, which is guaranteed to keep you awake.

Over time, good habits are learned and bad habits are eliminated. It also teaches how to set up a space to promote a good night's sleep, such as making sure the room is dark and cool and only using the bedroom for sleep and sex. The aim of CBT-I is to customize lifestyle habits and room settings for each individual patient to achieve maximum results.

CBT-I is revolutionizing not only the treatment of poor sleep but also the way we view the cause and effect of insomnia vs depression. Insomnia is turning out to be vastly more problematic than we could have imagined and the health benefits from a good night’s sleep may represent a new frontier in the world of preventive medicine.