According to a recent study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, there’s a strong relation between symptoms of nighttime depression and low-level light exposure while sleeping in elderly adults. It is estimated that the risk could be even greater for younger individuals as their eyes tend to be more sensitive. The study claims that sleeping in total darkness can not only help you sleep better, but also boost your mental health.
In a statement to TIME, Kenji Obayashi, co-author and professor in the department of community health and epidemiology at Nara Medical University School of Medicine, Japan, stated: “Maintaining darkness in the bedroom at night may be a novel and viable option to prevent depression.”
3. Disrupted Circadian Rhythm
You are likely to feel depressed at night if your circadian rhythm is disordered and disrupted. Our circadian rhythm is a natural internal clock that informs our mind and body about when it should be active and when it should rest. Circadian rhythm affects our energy levels and this is the reason why we feel low on energy from 1 to 3 pm and 2 to 4 am.
Studies have found that when our internal sleep clock is disrupted, it can increase our chances of developing depression and may even worsen the symptoms of night time depression. Your circadian rhythm can be disorganized due to various reasons, like doing the night shift, jet lag and excessive exposure to light at night.
4. Wrong Chronotype
When you have a chronotype disadvantage, then you could be at a higher risk of nighttime depression. Chronotype is your tendency to sleep at a certain time everyday. It determines when & how long an individual will sleep during a 24-hour period. This is what decides whether we are an early bird or a night owl.
According to a study on the association between depression and chronotype, it was found that older women, 55 years of age on average, who identified as a night owl had higher risk of developing depression.
Another underlying factor for feeling depressed at night is loneliness. If you live by yourself, then you are probably completely alone at night and this can leave you feeling isolated and abandoned. The long duration of the night can make you feel acutely lonely as you lack any interaction or companionship of another person.
6. Exhaustion & fatigue
When you feel excessively tired and fatigued after the activities of a long day, it can leave you feeling depressed, sad and empty. As your body runs out of energy, you try harder to sleep but this makes falling asleep even more difficult. Being unable to sleep, you may feel increasingly frustrated, angry, upset and stressed.
Coping with night time depression
“Depression is useful. It signals that you need to make changes in your life, it challenges your tendency to withdraw, it reminds you to take action.” – Gloria Anzaldua
As devastating as night time depression can be, there are several ways you can cope with it and build better mental health. Whenever you realize you’re depressed, whether at night or any time of the day, the first thing you need to do is consult a specialist. Therapy and treatment, including medications, can bring a huge difference in your life and enable you to experience life in a more positive and happier way.
However, if you are not currently undergoing treatment and yet to book an appointment with a therapist, then you may consider the following tips to help you cope with depression symptoms in mind. Keep in mind, these are not alternatives to medical treatment and therapy. These are only to help you find some balance & you should seek professional help as soon as possible.
1. Relax yourself two hours before sleeping
When you relax your mind and body a couple of hours before bed, your body begins to prepare for rest and sleep by slowing itself down. A good and relaxing sleep can do wonders for our physical, emotional and mental well being.