The link between lack of sleep and depression has always been a case of chicken or egg, in that it's hard to tell which comes first. Does depression make you lose sleep, or does lack of sleep increase your risk of depression?
While many experts regard lack of sleep as a symptom of depression, this new study shows evidence that the reverse might be the case.
The study analyzed health data from 7,146 people and found that consistent short sleep (less than five hours a night) predisposed individuals to depression within 4-12 years later.
The researchers used genetic susceptibility to disease to make these findings. Individuals with a stronger genetic predisposition to short sleep were more likely to develop depressive symptoms later on. However, those with a strong genetic predisposition to depression did not have an increased likelihood of sleeping shorter.
Aside from the genetic testing, the researchers went further to look at non-genetic associations between sleep and depression in order to make the study more comprehensive. They found that people who sleep five hours or less were 2.5 times more likely to develop depression, while those with depression were 1/3 times more likely to sleep less.
This was enough proof that contrary to what we had thought, sleep deprivation is not just a symptom of ill mental health but can precede it.
What about sleeping for longer?
Now, there's something even more striking and counterintuitive about the study. People who slept for longer than nine hours were 1.5 times more likely to develop depressive symptoms than those who slept for the recommended seven hours.
So, sleep deprivation is just as unhealthy as excessive sleep.
This reinforces why you shouldn't take your bedtime for granted. Now more than ever, people tend to stay up at night using their devices, and they get fewer than 7 hours of sleep at the end of the day.
Quality sleep is key to better mental health and well-being. Get enough of it, and your future self will be glad you did.
Battling with depression?
We can help! We have a range of remedies to get you out of that gloomy state, including medication, therapy, and a combination of both. Come talk to us, and we'd be only too happy to help you on your journey to better well-being.