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Trouble sleeping? New survey finds dissatisfying sleep is linked to more depressive symptoms

Sleep quality can affect life expectancy, study says
Sleep quality can affect life expectancy, study says 02:03

We know our sleep impacts our mental health and well-being, but a new survey is showing us just how much.

In its annual "Sleep in America" poll, released Thursday, the National Sleep Foundation found "strong associations between sleep health characteristics and depressive symptoms."

Half of all individuals who reported getting less than seven hours of sleep on weeknights said they experienced mild or greater levels of depressive symptoms, with 21% saying symptoms were moderate or severe.

And almost two-thirds (65%) of people who said they were dissatisfied with their sleep reported depressive symptoms; 31% said symptoms were moderate to severe.

The poll results come at a time the United States is dealing with a mental health crisis that was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"As a licensed clinician, I'd say there's never been a more important time to think about the strong connection between our sleep and mental health," said Joseph Dzierzewski, vice president of research and scientific affairs at the National Sleep Foundation, in a news release about the survey.

The poll also found that nearly 2 in 5 people who have difficulty falling asleep (37%) or staying asleep (38%) just 2 days a week reported mild or greater levels of depressive symptoms.

In terms of positive correlations, over 90% of adults with good sleep health reported no or minimal depressive symptoms.

If you're someone who struggles with sleep, the NSF offers some tips for what you can do to improve your sleep, including:

  • Establishing a sleep routine
  • Avoiding screen time before bed
  • Creating a sleep-friendly environment
  • Getting light during the day, not at night

If you're still not getting enough restful sleep or you have lasting symptoms, the foundation advises talking with your health care provider.

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