Earlier in February, we talked about Pharmacology of Sleep and how insomnia can be cured depending on its underlying cause. Today, we’d like to dig deep into what a lot of people call Depression Naps.
So what exactly are these Depression Naps? A lot of people claim that they tend to nap at various times of the day despite having a full night’s sleep and/or having a lot of stuff to do. What exactly is causing this? Is depression really the cause? Should you just give in and indulge ? How do you avoid them? In this post, we’ll try to answer these questions and many more!
If you read our Sleep Pharmacology post (If you haven’t , you should. Great read! ), you now that, depression and many other mental disorders affect sleep in various ways. For now , we will be focusing on depression. REM sleep is a part if your sleep where you dream. Obviously dreaming does not exactly serve a biological purpose. But why do we dream? During REM sleep, a neurotransmitter called Acetylcholine rises and other neurotransmitters such as Serotonin and Dopamine are lowered a great deal . While Serotonin and Dopamine are mainly responsible for feeling good and motivated, Acetylcholine is for critical thinking and problem solving. For this reason , your REM sleep is when your problems are worked on and eventually resolved by your brain. This is why depressed people spend more time in REM. It’s because they do have unresolved issues and their minds work overtime ,trying to resolve them once and for all ! This also causes people to spend less time in Slow Wave sleep where recovery happens. This is why depressed people often wake up not refreshed and still tired. Not because they don’t spend enough time sleeping, but because they don’t get refreshing sleep . This also creates a self feeding cycle of mood disorder. You are depressed so you spend more time in REM. Since you spend more time in REM, your Serotonin and Dopamine levels are chronically low. Which will make you spend more time in REM in return. Repeat and continue… A lot of depression medications(SSRIs) actually prevent REM sleep and boost slow wave sleep. Which might be a great step towards healing and fixing this issue!
Now, the Depression Nap itself might be caused by the lack of quality sleep. However, if you are clinically depressed , everything mentioned here will apply to you and no amount of nap will help you feel better. It would be better to avoid naps and do something productive or spend time on a hobby. If you feel that you are getting a good quality of sleep but that you still find yourself napping a lot mid-day, then this might be caused by a lack of motivation which still could be caused by depression. Either way, try NOT to nap at all! Find a hobby or a distraction. Do not consume caffeine as it will disrupt your sleep even more! It is proven that , sleep deprivation helps with depression rapidly. This is mainly caused by the fact that by not sleeping, you are preventing from entering a REM sleep cycle as mentioned above. Obviously this isn’t sustainable because you DO need to sleep. However, you do NOT need to nap. That being said, the longer you go without any naps during the day the better!
To conclude, if you feel that, these naps are really affecting the quality of your life, you should seek treatment! However, we never advise to actually nap. If you are really tired, try to push through. Medication therapies may help improve your sleep quality and in return you may find that you no longer feel the need to nap. They may also help with motivation , which in return will help you go about your day without any naps. Addressing depression itself is key to avoiding depression naps also! Keep in mind however, some medications might make you very sleepy at first, so do not confuse those with your regular Depression Naps! That just means that your medication is working so continue taking them unless otherwise is said by your doctor! Hope it helps!