You might be familiar with this term "depression naps" from news outlets or social media, but if you're not let me explain. Depression naps are lengthy periods of snooze time that people take to in order to avoid unwanted emotions related to their depression. The term "depression napping" has been gaining popularity in social media, and recently has people wondering if they are useful to your overall health. While sleeping for long periods of time can seem like a great coping mechanism, many experts are warning that extensive naps can disrupt your sleep cycle making depression worse. So what if you find yourself depression napping and want to correct the behavior?
Power through with a power nap!
According to Michelle Drerup, Director of behavioral sleep medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, it is recommended to engage in power napping by sleeping 15-20 minutes at a time. Although research is still unclear as to how many power naps you should take during the day, according to WebMD it is recommended to try and nap between the hours of 1pm-3pm if possible. Creating the perfect environment to nap is crucial. So break out those black out curtains, eye masks, and limit noise disruptions for the perfect napping space! A blogger named Daniel Tenner has talked about his mastery of power naps, and the success he has found power napping 3-4 times a day with the aid of relaxation apps and consistency in practice.
Create a basic routine for yourself each day
Most of us typically follow some sort of daily routine, but when depression strikes that routine often goes out the window! Typically when I see clients in my office who come in for depression and symptoms of oversleeping and lack of energy, we immediately hash out a new routine to get them moving. So let's say on an average day of normal energy level you can wake up, eat breakfast, go to work for 6-8 hours a day, come home, make a meal, and complete one-two chores before settling in for the night. When depression strikes it's important to slash that routine in half or by 75%. So instead of maybe making a complicated dinner for yourself when you come home, and completing two chores, find easy to make healthy oven or microwavable meals for the time being, and complete one task for the entire day. However you decide to re-arrange your schedule, the goal is to maintain physical movement and the mental reward of knowing you accomplished even minimal tasks for the day and week.
Watch what you eat!
Just like keeping a healthy diet is good for you any other time, avoiding overly greasy, sugary, or caffeinated foods and beverages are going to be key as well. If you happen to crave certain foods when you're feeling blue, the body will typically latch on to unrefined sugars and fats. So even though that box of Oreos or McDonalds may sound appealing, stick to complex carbohydrates such as oatmeal, whole grain breads, green vegetables, and for healthy fats, nuts, avocados, and eggs can be your go to. How you fuel your body will determine how energy is used and stored throughout the day, and ultimately will affect your sleep. Be sure to also consult with a nutritionist or your primary care physician on specific dietary needs (e.g. vegetarian, allergies, etc) if you find yourself in a depressive funk.
There is light at the end of the tunnel! If you find yourself unable to control your symptoms of depression, or feel like your depression is worsening, don't hesitate to reach out to me at Identity Insights, or another one of your many local mental health therapists who can help!
Devin Pinkston is a local mental health counselor and Gender Therapist in Grand Junction Colorado. Call to schedule a free consultation today at 970-644-2392