Close up of man sleeping in bed

The way you feel while you’re awake depends, in part, on what happens while you’re sleeping

During sleep, our bodies work to support healthy brain function and maintain our physical health.

But when a guy is depressed, getting good sleep can be tough. The problem is widespread; around 90% of people with depression have issues with sleep.[1]

When we can’t get enough sleep, we don’t act like ourselves. We might have shorter fuses, feel tired and drained, get stressed easily, or have harder times thinking clearly. Poor sleep also dulls our senses. It’s a serious concern; issues with sleep are a leading cause of car accidents.

Finding ways to get better sleep is crucial not only for tackling depression, but also for good overall health. We spend nearly a third of our lives sleeping – it’s important to get it right.

man making bed

Getting on the right track

On this page we’ll find some quick tips that can help us fix some of the most common problems related to sleep when depressed:

  1. Not being able to fall asleep,
  2. Waking up frequently during the night,
  3. Not being able to get out of bed.

We also provide some tips about good sleep habits. A lot of guys often overlook the importance of good sleep; they plan their days, but not their nights. For the most part, sleeping well simply means putting into place some good habits. There are lots of tips that can help, so it may take a little time to find what works best for you. But making these small changes – and maintaining them over the long term – can have a huge effect on our quality of life.

For more complete information and guidance about sleeping well, scroll to the Additional Resources section at the bottom of this page.

Can't fall asleep?
Keep waking up?
Can't get out of bed?
Can't fall asleep?

When we’re depressed, falling asleep can be pretty hard. Try some of the tips below, figure out what works for you, and stick with it.

Don’t lie around waiting to fall asleep

Lying in bed thinking about not being able to sleep only creates stress for us. If you’re not able to fall asleep after 15 minutes, you can try getting up and doing something quiet and relaxing instead, such as reading (if you need some light to see, try to keep it dim). Once you’re feeling tired again you can try going back to sleep.

Don’t take your worries to bed

Bed-time is not a good time to plan, solve problems, or anything else that requires mental energy. Before going to bed, make a to-do list for the next day and set it aside. The list will be there in the morning and you can work on it with a fresh mind after getting some rest.


When we’re agitated or keyed up for some reason before we go to bed, it’s going to be hard to fall asleep. We can try some relaxation techniques like deep breathing to lower our heart rates and calm our bodies down. Learn more stress management techniques.

Limit bright lights

Bright lights can mess with our circadian rhythms (sleep-wake cycles).[2] If you get up in the night and need help seeing, try using dim lights to find your way. They won’t disrupt your sleep cycle as much.

Avoid caffeine and nicotine

Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants and keep us wired long after ingestion. This can make it tough to get to sleep.[3] So if you drink coffee (or tea), smoke, or do both, try to limit your intake to the earlier part of the day, so their effects don’t last late into the night. For some guys, any amount of caffeine or nicotine can get in the way of a good night’s rest.

Keep waking up?

Waking up during the night is a common problem when depressed and can be very frustrating. Thankfully, there are some things we can try to limit how often we wake up and make it easier to fall back asleep.

It’s worthwhile to point out that, in many ways, the things we should do to fall asleep (see above) can also help us stay asleep.  It’s also important to keep in mind that as people get older, they tend to wake up more often during the night.[4] So, just because we’re waking up at night doesn’t necessarily mean we have some underlying problem that’s causing it.

Avoid afternoon naps

If you struggle to stay asleep, you should try to avoid taking naps during the day so that you’ll be more tired when night comes around. But — and this is a big “but” — if you need to do something where your or others’ safety will be in danger if you don’t nap (like driving home after work, for instance) take a snooze for no more than 30 minutes. Any longer than that, and we’ll enter deep sleep, which can affect our night time shuteye.

Limit alcohol consumption

Many guys think having some beers or drinks can help us sleep, but in reality alcohol wreaks havoc on our sleep cycle.[5] We might be able to fall asleep faster, but because alcohol interferes with our sleep cycle, we’ll end up waking during the night. Our bodies won’t be able to restore and relax properly.

Limit all drinks before sleep

A full bladder makes restful sleep very difficult. If getting up to go to the washroom is a problem, you can try limiting how much liquid you drink before bed. For some guys, drinking anything within an hour or two of bed will always send them to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Make sure to have a glass of water first thing in the morning so you don’t start off the day dehydrated.

Avoid your phone or tablet

Don’t turn on any electronics, because the blue-spectrum light emitted from these is known to impede sleep – meaning that it will be even harder to get back to sleep.[6]

Can't get out of bed?

As simple as it might sound, getting out of bed can feel like an impossible task when caught in the grips of depression. But laying around in bed isn’t the best strategy for fighting depression.  Here are a few tips – things to keep in mind – that will help us rise up, get out of bed, and move on with our days.

Start with the simplest step

When we’re depressed, it can feel like we don’t have enough energy to even get out of bed. In this case, we can think of the simplest thing we have to do that day. Maybe this is getting up and having a glass of water or juice. Maybe it’s brushing our teeth. We may not think so while lying in bed, but once we’re up we’ll have more energy.

Recognize how hard this is

When we manage to get ourselves up and going, take a second to recognize that this is actually a really difficult thing to do when depressed. Whatever we’re going to do that day, we’ve already got ‘getting out of bed’ done and crossed off the list. We can use this momentum to carry us on to our next small task.

Don’t use sleep to escape or avoid life

Sometimes we want to stay in bed, pull the covers over our heads, and forget everything we’re feeling or worrying about. This is totally normal when we’re depressed because it can feel like everything is working against us. But staying in bed isn’t a solution – it doesn’t make problems or responsibilities disappear. Instead, it leads to poorer quality sleep and feeling worse. Think of getting out of bed as one small way to fight back against depression.

Tips for Sleeping Well

Sleep well and feel rested and restored the next day. Sounds good right? Let’s get on our way there. With the tips below, we can get into the right groove for a good night’s sleep.

Make your bed comfortable

We spend almost a third of our lives asleep. You’ll want a good bed and pillow so you don’t wake up with a sore back or neck.  Don’t underestimate how important these items are to a good night’s rest.

Get 7.5-9 hours of sleep

We need enough hours of rest in order for our brains to go through a proper sleep cycle.  For most guys, 7.5-9 hours of sleep a day will do, but this can vary a bit between people.[7] Track your sleep for a few days and pay attention to how alert, well rested, and restored you feel after sleep.

Build a routine

A regular routine – going to bed and waking up at the same times each day – is one of the most important things we can do to sleep well. This allows our bodies to optimize our sleep cycles and restore energy. Try not to change your sleep schedule on weekends, days off, or while traveling. If you need to make up for a few lost hours, opt for a daytime nap rather than sleeping late. Here is an example:

  1. (30 minutes before) Shut off all electronic devices.
  2. (20 minutes before) Lay out your clothes for the morning, brush your teeth, wash your face.
  3. (10 minutes before) Calm your mind and body.  
  4. (time to sleep) Turn your bedroom into a cave – no noise or light.

When we lay our head on the pillow, don’t focus on falling asleep. Instead, focus on being relaxed and having a clear mind.

Use naps strategically

When we do find we need a nap, we can try to take them by early-afternoon, before 3pm, and keep them under 30 minutes. Otherwise naps can throw our bodies’ sleep cycles off.

Get some sunlight

Taking in some sunlight helps keep our sleep-wake cycles regulated. Try to get outside when you can and keep curtains and blinds open while inside during the day.

Get in some physical activity

Regular physical activity can be a huge boost to help improve sleep – just don’t exercise right before bed.

Save your bed for sleep

Our beds might be comfortable but we want our minds to connect our beds with sleep, not with lying around eating, watching TV, or working. When we drop down after a long day we want our bodies to know it’s time to sleep.

Putting It Into Practice

Forming new habits can be tough, so we’ve gathered helpful tips and strategies for creating daily habits and routines to fight depression.


  1. Nutt, D., Wilson, S., & Paterson, L. (2008). Sleep disorders as core symptoms of depression. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, 10(3), 329-336. 10.31887/DCNS.2008.10.3/dnutt
  2. Touitou, Y., Reinberg, A., & Touitou, D. (2017). Association between light and night, melatonin secretion, sleep deprivation, and the internal clock: Health impacts and mechanisms of circadian disruption. Life Sciences, 172, 94-106.
  3. Roehrs, T., & Roth, T. (2015). Sleep disturbances in substance use disorders. Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 38(4), 793-803.
  4. Mander, B., Winer, J., & Walker, M. (2017). Sleep and human aging. Neuron, 94(1), 19-36.
  5. Thakkar, M., Sharma, R., & Sahota, P. (2015). Alcohol disrupts sleep homeostasis. Alcohol, 49(4), 299-310.
  6. Chellappa, S., Steiner, R., Oelhafen, P., Lang, D., Götz, T., Krebs, J., & Cajochen, C. (2013). Acute exposure to evening blue-enriched light impacts on human sleep. Journal of Sleep Research, 22(5), 573-580.
  7. Smith, M., Robinson, L., & Segal, R. (n.d.). How much sleep do you need? HelpGuide.


Men's Health Week takes place annually in mid-June, during the week preceding Father’s Day. The week is not just a campaign, but a call to action for men to take better care of their health and for communities to support men in this endeavour.

Men's Health Week 2024