SLEEP AND DEPRESSION
For those of us with a special interest in sleeping well, Dr. Rubin Naiman's online quarterly Mindful Sleep, Mindful Dreams Newsletter can be a very helpful resource. Rubin Naiman, PhD, is at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona in Tucson and is a proponent of behavioral sleep therapy. You can subscribe to the newsletter at www.drnaiman.com.
In his Spring, 2011 newsletter, Dr. Naiman has an article about "Circadian Rhythm and BluesThe Interface of Depression with Sleep and Dreams". He explains that people with insomnia are excessively wakeful or hyperaroused, running at an increased metabolic rate 24 hours per day. This leads us to a state of depression where we always feel fatigued.
And insomnia is not simply about sleep loss, but also about disrupted REM sleep or dream loss. Healthy dreaming helps us process and heal emotions. REM dreams in the first part of the night appear to process and diffuse residual negative emotion from the waking day. Dreams later in the night integrate this material into one's sense of self. Dr. Naiman describes dreaming as a kind of psychological yoga.
He goes on to say that most of the newer antidepressants are REM suppressant stimulants that essentially mask symptoms of depression by suppressing dreaming and encouraging excessive wakefulness.
Dreaming is antidepressive. It restores something expansive and rhythmic to the flow of consciousness.
The full article is available at http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/mindful-sleep-mindful-dreams.
There is also a Part II there that recommends steps to take that will help us alter this destructive pattern.