If you happen to keep up to date with what is going in the world of sleep by reading sleep research studies or sleep articles, you may have come across some that discuss the effects alcohol has on sleep, and chances are you’re curious about your own health after reading them. Maybe you’re even suffering from insomnia and wondering if alcohol is the answer. If that’s the case, it might be time to take a couple of steps back and assess your situation. Sometimes sleep problems can signal depression, a serious illness that affects millions of people in North America. Most people think that they’d be able to easily identify the fact that they’re suffering from depression, but that isn’t necessarily so. Depression can take the form of excessive anger, anxiety, a gradual withdrawal from society or from previously enjoyable activities, weight gain, weight loss, and insomnia. Sleep deprivation and depression become insidious when one begins to affect the other. It can quickly become a vicious cycle where the depression causes insomnia and the insomnia causes the depression to worsen.
Loss of sleep and depression sometimes leads to self medicating through over-the-counter medications or alcohol. Unfortunately, over-the-counter meds may not address any other underlying conditions that could be causing the depression, and the effects alcohol have on sleep are generally negative. Sleep and alcohol do not mix. One drink before bed may not disrupt your sleep cycle too much, but the more alcohol you drink, the more it’s going to negatively impact the quality of your sleep. By its very nature, alcohol is a depressant. Add that depressant to a person who is sleep deprived and you’ve got a recipe for health problems.
The question then becomes what to do about depression and sleep problems. Everybody feels blue or down in the dumps from time to time, but when serious depression hits, a doctor should be consulted. There are a few things you can do on your own to help with your insomnia (buy a new ergonomic pillow or mattress topper), and better rest may signal a relief in your depression. However, if you suspect you may be suffering from clinical depression, make sure to see your physician about it. The faster you get relief from sleep loss and depression, the faster you’ll find yourself feeling and sleeping better.