Insomnia: Depressive Episodes and Sleep Disturbances
Last updated: November 2021
It is not a secret. Depression has a big impact on some sleep. While we know it affects how we sleep, it does not necessarily have the same impact on everyone. It does not even have the same impact on a single person every time. It varies.
I have a mental illness and have depressive episodes. During these episodes, I may sleep more than usual or not sleep at all. How do I know how it will affect me when I have an episode?
Signs of changes in sleep patterns
I tend to notice even small changes in how much sleep I get. A slight bit less sleep than usual leaves me dragging, and too much sleep has the same effect. If I lose 30 minutes of sleep one night, I feel it in a big way the next day. If this happens more than a time or two in a short period of time, I pay close attention.
The same thing happens when I sleep too much. A big warning sign for me during a depressive episode is excessive sleep. I feel run down if I sleep more than usual. If I begin to spend a lot more time in bed each day, I know there is a problem.
How depressive episodes affect my sleep patterns
I always call it a sleep pattern, but I really do not have much of a pattern. It is more about the overall amount of sleep I get in a 24-hour period. That might be a half-hour nap with an hour's wait to go back to sleep followed by 3 hours of sleeping without waking. No matter how I get sleep, I generally just count how much sleep I get overall.
When I am on the verge of a depressive episode, I start to feel run down. Sometimes this leads me to sleep more often, but it can also keep me awake longer than usual. While it is normal for me to have recurring bouts of both issues, it is not normal for me to have a bout of the same issue that lasts for more than a short while. It rotates frequently, and a change in that cycle means something is not right. A sleep pattern that sticks around makes me assess my stress level.
Knowing when a change needs intervention
After dealing with a mental illness for more years than I care to mention, I have set conditions that let me know it is time to seek treatment.
Once I notice a red flag, I pay close attention to the appearance of other red flags. I also note how much time passes without resolution. For me, even a single issue that lasts too long needs treatment.
Change is worth noting and monitoring
Any change that makes you feel like you are not quite yourself is a change worth discussing with your doctor. A new sleep disturbance or a sudden shift in sleep patterns might signal a change in mood.
So many things trigger insomnia that it is not always easy or even possible to know the cause, but change is worth noting and monitoring.
Do you have depressive episodes? How does it affect your sleeping patterns? I would love to hear about your experience.
What do you do at night when you can't sleep?