When you’re living with depression, sleeping doesn’t always come easily. Here are my go-to tricks when I can’t seem to wind down.
When my psychiatrist is worried about me, she always asks me how I’m sleeping. When my depression is getting the best of me, I tend to thrash around on my bed for hours. I seem to wake up every hour.
Here are some tips that have helped me get the sleep that I need so I can function throughout the day.
I’ve found that listening to music can relax me to the point that I drift off. I have a playlist on Pandora filled with familiar songs that I really like.
It’s fun to take an hour or two to sort out the songs that work best for you. They can be anything: alternative, pop, classical. You might even want to listen to nature sounds or recordings from the ocean.
The point is that you find something that makes you relax and that you want to hear. There are some phone apps that you can use that have relaxing sounds, too. I also have a clock with recorded songs on it that help me relax.
When I’m getting ready to fall asleep, I have a routine that always includes a hot shower. This helps me relax.
Routines like these are helpful for depression. It might also be helpful to use body wash with scents that you like.
When you’re living with depression, you can find ways to fight back at it with all the five senses.
Anxiety and depression can be related. There are times when I can’t sleep because I’m so worried about something. This feeds into my depression.
There are many techniques to help reduce anxiety. One thing I do is take deep breaths, slowly and gently. I notice that when I’m anxious, it feels harder to breathe, so this really helps.
I may also try writing a list of all the things that I’m worried about — just to get them out of my head so I can focus more on sleep. Identifying what you’re anxious about is an important step in combatting it.
When I’m depressed and having trouble sleeping, I start getting very frustrated. I also tend to think negatively about myself. Everything I do is wrong. If I can do something to reverse this, it really helps.
The goal is to counter the depression with everything that is positive. It might sound wild, but one really good way to do this is to talk to yourself. I try to speak calmly and gently to myself all the time.
I acknowledge that, yes, I’m in a depressed mood. But I need to take care of myself and get the sleep I need to be able to function in the morning.
One of the hardest parts of coping with depression is feeling like it will go on forever. This can make trying to fall asleep more complicated and overwhelming.
Keep reminding yourself that depression often comes in waves and things will get better. This is one thing that always helps me when I’m struggling to fall asleep and worrying about it being a never-ending problem.
When it comes down to it, it’s important to take care of yourself with self-compassion. Depression can make it harder to fall asleep, but you don’t need to just accept that. Fight back with whatever works best for you.
Try to include things that engage the five senses. Also, keep track of your sleep and tell a mental health professional if you’re unable to sleep. Sometimes, medication is a necessary step. There have been times when my doctor needed to prescribe medication to help me get some sleep.
What matters is finding ways that help you get the amount of sleep you need to feel rested and ready to take on the day.
Medically reviewed on October 27, 2023
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