Sleep

Practical sleep tips

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

During sleep, your body is working to support healthy brain function and maintain your 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.

When you can’t get enough sleep, you don’t act like yourself. You might have a shorter fuse, feel tired and drained, get stressed easily, or have a harder time thinking clearly. Poor sleep also dulls your 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.

Sleep Tips

Getting on the right track

On this page you’ll find some quick tips that can help you 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, and 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 your 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 you’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 will only create stress for you. If you’re not able to fall asleep after 15 minutes, 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 try going back to sleep.

 

Watch Steven’s Tip Video: Important Sleep Tips.

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.

Relax

If you’re agitated or keyed up for some reason when you go to bed, it’s going to be hard to fall asleep. Try some relaxation techniques like deep breathing to lower your heart rate and calm your body down. Learn more stress management techniques.

Limit bright lights

Bright lights can mess with your circadian rhythm (sleep-wake cycle). 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 you wired long after ingestion. This can make it tough to get to sleep. 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 you can try to limit how often you wake up and make it easier to fall back asleep.

It’s worthwhile to point out that, in many ways, the things you should do to fall asleep (see above) can also help you 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. So, just because you’re waking up at night doesn’t necessarily mean you 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 you’ll enter deep sleep, which can affect your night time shuteye.

Limit alcohol consumption

You may think having some beers or drinks can help you sleep, but in reality alcohol wreaks havoc on your sleep cycle. You might be able to fall asleep faster, but because alcohol interferes with your sleep cycle, you’ll end up waking during the night. Your body won’t be able to restore and relax itself properly.

Limit all drinks before sleep

A full bladder makes a restful sleep very difficult. If getting up to go to the washroom is a problem, 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.

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 you rise up, get out of bed, and move on with your day.

Start with the simplest step

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

Recognize how hard this is

If you manage to get yourself up and going, take a second to recognize that this is actually a really difficult thing to do when depressed. Whatever you’re going to do for the day, you’ve already got getting out of bed done and crossed off the list. Use the momentum to carry you on to your next small task.

Don’t use sleep to escape or avoid life

Sometimes you want to stay in bed, pull the covers over your head, and forget everything you’re feeling or worrying about. This is totally normal when you’re depressed because it can feel like everything is working against you. 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 you on your way there. With the tips below, you can get into the right groove for a good night’s sleep.

Make your bed comfortable

You spend almost a third of your life 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

You need enough hours of rest in order for your brain 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. 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 you can do to sleep well. This allows your body to optimize your sleep cycle 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.  Try these relaxation tips.
  4. (time to sleep) Turn your bedroom into a cave – no noise or light.

When you lay your head on the pillow, don’t focus on trying to fall asleep. Instead, focus on being relaxed and having a clear mind.

 

Watch Trevor’s Tip Video: Build a Sleep Routine.

Use naps strategically

If you find you need a nap, try to do so by mid-afternoon, around 3pm, and keep it under 30 minutes. Otherwise naps can throw your body’s sleep cycle off.

Get some sunlight

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

Get some exercise

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

Save your bed for sleep

Your bed might be comfortable but you want your mind to connect your bed with sleep, not with lying around eating, watching TV, or working. When you drop down after a long day you want you body to know it’s time to sleep.

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