Depression affects millions of Americans, who struggle with feelings of loneliness, hopelessness, anxiety and more. Even today, scientists aren’t exactly sure what causes depression; however, they have clearly identified certain things which make it worse. Unfortunately for people who suffer from sleep apnea, insufficient sleep is one of those things.
The Power of Sleep
A growing body of research is showing the true value of sleep when it comes to our physical and mental health. Countless studies have linked inadequate sleep to some pretty scary medical problems that occur below the neck, including diabetes, heart disease and certain forms of cancer. Research has also shown that sleep difficulties can cause big problems above the neck by increasing a person’s risk of suffering from migraine headaches, dementia and depression.
Too Little vs. Too Much
Unfortunately, studies have shown that too much sleep can also promote serious depression in many people. This can also be problematic for sleep apneics, because they may require long stretches of rest to make up for the shallow nature of their sleep. Since breathing disruptions cause them to wake frequently, sleep apneics aren’t able to attain enough restorative REM sleep. To make up for this, they may have to sleep longer than normal and ultimately increase their risk for depression.
Understanding the Link
Let’s be clear about one thing: sleep apnea doesn’t necessarily cause depression; however, it can intensify the feelings of existing depression and make new bouts of depression more likely. If a person is receiving inadequate sleep, feelings of depression will only be magnified, causing further disruption to that person’s life. All the negative feelings associated with sleep apnea (mood changes, irritability, and memory loss) combined with the symptoms of depression (loneliness, hopelessness, and anxiety) will inevitably lead to a much lower quality of life.
Take Back Your Life
Sleep plays a critical role in our lives by promoting good physical and mental health. If sleep apnea is preventing you from sleeping through the night; it’s time to take action. If you live in the Omaha area and suffer from depression and you believe that you also suffer from sleep apnea, please call (402)493-4175 or contact us to set up a consultation with Dr. Roubal.