Antidepressants for sleep: Happier and healthier sleeping patterns
You’re not alone.
Countless people today have a hard time drifting off to sleep. Often, problems of insomnia are caused by everything from chronic pain and discomfort, to issues with anxiety. Unfortunately, the complicated nature of insomnia means that finding the right treatment is easier said than done.
For instance, depression and sleep problems often go together hand-in-hand.
If you often feel down or overwhelmed by negative emotions, it’s hard to achieve the feeling of relaxation required for a good night’s sleep. However, many of the medications used to treat depression can add to your sleep problems.
Insomnia is a common side effect of many antidepressants. Because of this, if your sleep deprivation and depression issues are closely linked, your doctor or sleep expert may need to consider your choice of medication very carefully.
Here, we’re going to look at the antidepressants used for sleep support and emotional wellbeing.
The connection between antidepressants and sleep
So, how closely connected are antidepressants and sleep?
Well, to understand that, we need to look at the link between sleep and depression, or psychological illnesses. To fall asleep each night you need to be more than just tired. Your sleeping experience is a very fragile thing, which can be disrupted by anything from anxiety to feelings of hunger, discomfort, or pain.
Depression is a very common cause of insomnia. It’s why many people turn to exercise and meditation to help clear their mind before they go to bed. Additionally, the less you sleep, the more likely you are to feel depressed. When you’re sleep-deprived, one of the significant symptoms you’ll experience is an inability to control your emotions.
Sleep deprivation makes your amygdala (the part in your brain responsible for managing emotions and survival instincts, becomes hypersensitive. That means that you respond more aggressively to all kinds of stimuli, leading to dramatic negative emotions.
According to some studies, the sensitivity of the amygdala, combined with other factors means that people with insomnia have a ten times greater risk of developing depression.
The more depressed you feel, the more symptoms of sleep disorders you’ll experience, including difficult staying asleep, falling asleep, and getting the right quality of sleep. What’s more, obstructive sleep apnea is also linked to depression.
One study into 18,980 people found that people with depression were five times more likely to suffer from sleep disorders that affected their breathing.
Clearly, there’s a significant overlap between sleep deprivation and depression.
Because sleep and depression are so deeply connected, you might assume that all depression medications would be suitable to support both mental health, and sleep disorders. However, there are only a handful of antidepressants that help with sleep and anxiety at the same time.
Antidepressants and sleep disorders often have a negative connection. Many of the leading antidepressants used today come with side effects that worsen your sleeping patterns.
Antidepressants that help with sleep and anxiety
When you speak to a doctor or psychologists about treatment for your mental health and sleeping conditions, it’s important to ensure that they understand that both your sleep and your emotions need help.
Sometimes, your doctors will recommend using drugs that will help you to get to sleep before you begin using antidepressants.
These sedative medications, like Zolpidem are often used alongside psychotherapy and cognitive behavioural therapy. If your doctor chooses this route, it’s usually because they want to get to the root cause of your depression, before prescribing long-term medication.
Additionally, treatment for depression is often complicated by the present of sleep disorders. For instance, if you have depression and problems with sleep apnea at the same time, you’ll need to avoid sedating antidepressants because they could worsen your breathing.
What’s more, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, the most common choice for depression treatment, are often the worst for those with insomnia. Otherwise known as SSRIs these medications can improve mood in many conditions, however, they also cause or worsen insomnia, making them terrible antidepressants for sleep.
On the plus side, there are some antidepressants used for sleep and depression that can work to address both issues at the same time.
However, there’s no one-size-fits-all treatment. Your doctor will need to monitor you closely to determine which antidepressants help you sleep and address your emotional issues at the same time.
One option is a tricyclic antidepressant. Tricylic antidepressants are good for those who need help with sedation. However, they can often cause other side effects, including problems with high blood pressure.
Which antidepressants help you sleep?
The complex relationship between antidepressants and sleep means that it can often take some time before you find the treatment that’s right for you. Doctors will sometimes start by giving you an SSRI medication and seeing how you respond.
If you’re struggling with sleep anxiety, then some SSRIs may help you to feel calmer about going to bed, particularly when they’re combined with over-the-counter sleep aids and meditation. SSEIs may include citalopram, paroxetine, and fluoxetine.
SNRIs, or serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, may be a better option when SSRIs are deemed unsuitable. Drugs like Venlafaxine, Duloxetine, and Desvenlafaxine are commonly used when depression comes with other symptoms like anxiety or pain disorders.
SNRIs can sometimes be better antidepressants used for sleep anxiety and other sleep disorders.
The most common choices for treating both sleep deprivation and depressions are tricyclic antidepressants like Nortriptyline, Amitriptyline or Trimipramine. Your doctor may also suggest sedating antidepressants like Silenor, Trazodone, and Mirtazapine.
However, it’s worth noting that antidepressants used for sleep can make you feel drowsy during the day. If you’re worried about having trouble concentrating, you’ll need to ask your doctor about medications or treatments like yoga that can help you to avoid side effects.
Are antidepressants used for sleep getting better?
For a long time, it was practically impossible to find a medication that helped with sleep and depression at the same time. However, as researchers have learned more about the connection between antidepressants and sleep, we’re seeing the arrival of new options on the market.
For instance, in the category of antidepressants that help with sleep and anxiety, a relatively new option has appeared. Remeron may be particularly useful for those with depression and sleep disorders because it helps with sedation at night. However, like many sedating antidepressants for sleep, Remeron can cause feelings of exhaustion during the day.
Though depression and sleep are often closely connected, there’s still a lot of work to do before scientists and medical professionals find the perfect solution to cure both issues at once. In general, antidepressants have a habit of suppressing REM sleep and making it harder for you to enter REM sleep.
This means that when you’re medicating for depression, you might have more problems overcoming your sleep disorders.
The few medications that are available for those in search of antidepressants used for sleep often cause drowsiness and sedation side effects that aren’t limited to the evenings. This means that you may struggle with staying focused when you’re using these drugs.
Because of this, there’s no one-size-fits-all magic medication for sleep and depression.
What’s the right treatment for sleep deprivation and depression?
If you’re suffering from depression and sleep disorders at the same time, the best thing you can do is speak to your doctor. Some people will find that beginning treatment for depression, with things like cognitive behavioural therapy and antidepressants will help their sleep to improve.
That’s because when you feel happier and more relaxed, you’re more likely to fall asleep. Additionally, when you get used to your depression medication, you can begin to fall into a routine that’s good for sleep hygiene.
Many doctors will also recommend other treatments alongside your depression medication, such as exercises that you can use to encourage better sleep or meditation. As you begin to overcome your depression, you may find that your sleep improves as a natural side effect.
On the other hand, if your insomnia is the cause of your depression, then your doctor will likely want to focus more specifically on your sleep disorders. You might be asked to take part in a sleep study that highlights the cause of your issues.
You could also be given some sedating medications that will help you to get more sleep initially.
Once you’re better rested, you can begin trying things like therapy and counseling, before gradually using medications to assist with your depression.
To learn more about treatments for sleep disorders, check out the other guides right here on Siestio.