World Sleep Day: study links depression with bad sleep habits

We all know that a bad night’s sleep can ruin your mood the next day and that, conversely, a good eight hours of restful slumber can make you feel unbeatable. But how strong is the connection between sleep and mental health? A new poll from the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) has been looking into just that, and the results are pretty clear: there’s a strong correlation between poor sleep and depression.

The NSF’s annual Sleep in America poll (opens in new tab) has been running for 25 years, making it one of the longest-running records of U.S. perceptions, attitudes, and trends in sleep health. With organizations including the CDC and National Institutes of Health (NIH) recognizing mental health as a critical issue right now, this year the NSF felt the need to explore the connection between sleep health and mental health conditions like depression.

The headline numbers make a strong case: the poll found that 65% of adults who are dissatisfied with their sleep also experience mild or greater levels of depressive symptoms, while half of adults who get less than the NSF-recommended 7-9 hours of sleep every night similarly experience mild or stronger depressive symptoms.

Man lying in bed and turning his alarm clock off

(Image credit: Getty)

Looking more closely at the figures, the poll reports that adults who slept less than seven hours per night on weekdays were three times more likely to experience moderate to severe depressive symptoms than people who got the recommended seven to nine hours’ sleep.

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