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Examining the Relationship Between Mental Health and Sleep Disorders

Sleep deprivation seems to have become part of the American way. Busy lifestyles and high levels of stress are keeping Americans awake from coast to coast. Researchers and doctors have also identified an increasing rate of mental illness in American adults. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, “One in four adults, approximately 61.5 million Americans, experiences mental illness in a given year.” Additionally, one in every 25 adults in America lives with a serious mental illness, such as bipolar disorder, major depression or schizophrenia.

Depressed Woman not Sleeping All Day

Putting two and two together, researchers at Harvard found that sleep problems impact 50% to 80% of patients in a typical psychiatric practice. This is a far cry from the 10% to 18% of adults in the general U.S. population who experience sleep disorders. Insomnia and sleep apnea have been linked to patients with depression. Often times, one can actually cause the other. Fortunately, treating one area can improve symptoms in the other.


Another recent study by the CDC makes a strong association between sleep disturbances and depression. Researchers expected to find symptoms like snoring and snorting, but were surprised to find depression as a key complaint among research subjects undergoing treatment for obstructive sleep apnea.


What do we know?



  • Treatment is available for both mental illness and sleeping disorders and physicians should include both areas of treatment for optimal patient care.


  • Doctors are continuing to find links between mental health and disordered sleep. As more research is done in the field, treatment options are sure to expand.


While we don’t always know which came first, we do know that sleep and mental health are intricately related. If you or someone you know are experiencing symptoms of a mental health disorder, please consider undergoing a sleep evaluation to see if treatment could be helpful. Similarly, if you are having trouble sleeping, then be sure to inform your medical provider if you are having feelings associated with depression or another mental illness. Help and hope are available.



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Steve N.

San Diego, CA

"I recommend them highly!! I took my 2 year old daughter for a sleep study and was very impressed. Our sleep technician was amazing with her, very patient and kind. The DVD we brought to watch while getting her hooked up got stuck in the TV and they vowed to return it. We got a call the next day checking on our daughter and saying how sweet she was, they mentioned the DVD. Several days later, we received the DVD plus a new copy of the Lion King with a nice note. They are very good at what they do and if they can make a 2 year old feel at ease, they can probably do the same with anyone!!"

Anthea S.

Tempe, AZ

"I was especially impressed with Andrew the Respiratory Therapist who reviewed my study with me and answered my questions. Andrew thoroughly explained everything about the Cpap machine-from start to finish. I never felt rushed and was assured I could contact him with any additional questions or needs. Andrew told me he would follow up with a call in a week and he did. I believe this center performed the study appropriately and the added benefit of having Andrew teach me about the machine and what to expect was a bonus."

Candace M.

Scottsdale, AZ