Sleep and Mental Health

Sleep problems and particular mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder are closely linked. So much so that many researchers believe that they have common biological causes. Sleep problems are more likely to affect patients with psychiatric disorders than people in the general population. Sleep loss is also associated with significant effects on mood and behavior.

man sleeping on the table with laptop at home

Chronic insomnia affects nearly one out of five adults and is a risk factor for depression, substance abuse, impaired waking function and sensitivity to pain.1,2

Studies show that 65% to 90% of adult patients and 90% of children with major depression have some kind of sleep problem. More than one-half of insomnia cases are related to depression, anxiety or psychological stress. Insomnia is caused by difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep or waking up too early in the morning.

About one in five insomnia sufferers have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Sleep apnea and its symptoms have been shown to be associated with major depression regardless of factors such as weight, age, sex or race. A large study by the Centers for Disease Control and prevention found 63% of patients with obstructive sleep apnea also have depression.3

Treating insomnia or other sleep problems may help alleviate symptoms of mental health issues.

1Baldwin DC Jr, Daugherty SR. 2004. Sleep deprivation and fatigue in residency training: Results of a national survey of first- and second-year residents. Sleep 27(2):217–223.
2Strine TW, Chapman DP. 2005. Associations of frequent sleep insufficiency with health-related quality of life and health behaviors. Sleep Medicine 6(1):23–27.
3Wheaton AG, Perry GS, Chapman DP, Croft JB. Sleep Disordered Breathing and Depression among U.S. Adults: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2005-2008. Sleep. 2012 Apr 1; 35(4): 461–467.
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