What Is A Depression Nap? What You Need To Know About Depression And Sleep

Medically reviewed by Julie Dodson, MA
Updated March 20, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Those living with depression may experience physical and mental exhaustion, which could cause them to feel the urge to sleep more than usual. Others with depression may use daytime sleep or napping to avoid dealing with certain people, situations, or responsibilities. These “depression naps” may help some individuals regain energy, but they may be counterproductive for others.

Naps Are A Temporary Fix—Therapy Is Long-Term Depression Support

What Is Depression?

Depression is a mental health condition characterized by a lasting negative mood, loss of interest in activities you previously enjoyed, insomnia and oversleeping, difficulty concentrating, and thoughts of suicide in some cases. *

Depression can be common; around 14.8 million US adults experienced a major depressive episode in 2020, and 4.6% of US adults have regular feelings of depression. 61% of adults and 40% of adolescents receive treatment for depression, making it one of the most widely treated mental health conditions. 

Evidence-based support for depression symptoms is available, including medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes. Some people attempt to cope with the symptoms of depression by taking depression naps, but in some cases, depression naps may make the symptoms of depression worse.

*If you are experiencing thoughts or urges of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text 988 to talk to someone over SMS. They are available 24/7 to offer support. 

The Link Between Sleep And Depression

Depression and sleep are often linked. Nearly 75% of people with depression experience insomnia symptoms, including difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. 

Research shows that a significant number of individuals with depression, particularly young adults with depression, experience hypersomnia or excessive sleepiness. While it’s clear that depression and low-quality sleep are connected, the cause may be multifactorial. 

Some people may feel overwhelmed by their depression, which can cause their sleeping habits to become irregular. Feelings of sadness or stress may cause individuals with depression to lie awake at night or sleep excessively during the day, making it harder to fall asleep at night. For some people with depression, depression naps may be the only sleep they can get daily.

Others with depression may experience a lack of motivation to tackle life’s challenges. They may use daytime sleep to avoid navigating difficulties, or they may be so exhausted by their condition that they feel unable to proceed throughout the day without a nap. 

In many cases, these individuals may take a nap to try and help them manage their depressive symptoms so that they will feel more capable of getting things done when they awake.

Risks Of Depression Naps

Naps may become problematic for some people living with depression. Depression naps may make it more difficult to fall asleep in the evening, exacerbating depressive symptoms like fatigue or difficulty concentrating. If depression naps become an avoidant behavior, they may intensify symptoms like sadness, worthlessness or isolation.

Depression naps are often a temporary fix. They might not help people with depression sustainably reduce their depressive symptoms. Instead of using naps as a coping mechanism, people with depression may benefit from seeking targeted depression treatment to work effectively resolve their depressive symptoms.

Are Naps Bad For Your Mental Health?

Naps are not necessarily bad for your mental health. An occasional nap can have significant benefits, such as helping reduce fatigue, improve memory, or increase alertness. 

Naps could become problematic for your mental health when they’re used as a coping mechanism to avoid healthier lifestyle behaviors, like practicing conflict resolution, exercise or eating a balanced diet.

For those without depression, napping may also disrupt evening sleep. You may want to avoid napping too late in the day to preserve your sleep schedule and practice healthy sleep hygiene habits.

The Relationship Between Depression And Insomnia

Insomnia, or difficulty falling or staying asleep, is a sleep disorder that can be a symptom of depression in some cases. Some studies estimate that around 33% of adults exhibit chronic insomnia. 

Insomnia or other comorbid sleep disorders may ultimately make symptoms of depression worse. Inadequate sleep may make it feel difficult to accomplish everyday responsibilities, which can cause some people with depression to feel overwhelmed or stressed. 

However, some studies suggest that controlled, inpatient sleep deprivation—staying awake for 36 hours while being monitored by a healthcare provider—may have an anti-depressive effect for many people with chronic depression.

The relationship between sleep and depression can be complicated, but getting support for your depressive symptoms doesn’t have to be. If you’re experiencing depression or excessive tiredness, help may be available. 

Treatment Options For Depression And Insomnia

If your life is being negatively impacted by depression, insomnia, or some combination of them both, treatment may help resolve your symptoms. Untreated depression symptoms could impact your daily life. 

For example, depression symptoms like difficulty concentrating or exhaustion may make it challenging to keep up at work or school. Whether your depression is mild or severe, treatment may help you overcome your symptoms or prevent them from worsening.

The exact treatment may depend on the cause of your depression and the symptoms you are experiencing. For instance, if your depressive challenges began after the loss of a loved one, grief therapy may be the most valuable option. Other treatment options may include the following. 


Some people may be prescribed medications like antidepressants by their primary care physician or a psychiatrist. There are several different types of medications for depression. 

Some types of medication may not be appropriate if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Your prescribing physician may be able to help you determine whether medications for depression are the proper choice for you.

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a treatment modality in which electrical currents are sent through the brain. These currents may change how neurotransmitters work to improve depression symptoms. ECT is indicated for those who can’t take medications or haven’t benefited from them.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

Like ECT, TMS involves sending currents through the brain. However, with TMS, these currents are magnetic pulses that stimulate nerve endings that may impact mood. TMS may be indicated for people with depression who don’t respond to medications.

Lifestyle Changes 

Research shows the effectiveness of lifestyle changes such as exercise, diet, sleep, and mindfulness techniques on mood-related conditions such as depression. Modifying these lifestyle factors may help resolve some symptoms of depression.

Talking To A Specialist 

If you continue to experience insomnia symptoms, even after getting support for depression, you may want to discuss your symptoms with a sleep medicine specialist. They may help you determine if your insomia is due to another medical condition, such as sleep apnea. 

A specialist may recommend several lifestyle changes and treatments for insomnia, including:

  • Stress-reduction techniques like mindfulness meditation or yoga

  • Avoiding evening naps to help preserve your evening quality of sleep

  • Eliminating sugar or caffeine from your diet, since these items may exacerbate wakefulness, especially when consumed in the evening

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy to help you redirect thoughts that may be prohibiting sleep

  • Prescription sleeping pills to return your body to healthy sleeping habits

Getting support from a mental health professional specializing in depression or insomnia may help you get the treatment you need. These mental health professionals can provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment for your major depression or any other mental illness or lifestyle factor causing your symptoms, such as chronic stress or alcohol use.

Speaking To A Mental Health Professional 

Therapy is often recommended as a first-line treatment for depression. Obtaining treatment, rather than relying on coping methods like depression naps, may help you more effectively manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life.

Online therapy may be especially beneficial for people experiencing depression. Because online therapy sessions can be performed from anywhere, it may be more convenient for people struggling to leave the house, or who are experiencing fatigue. Additionally, studies show that online therapy is an effective treatment for people experiencing depression, including children and adolescents. 

If you’re looking to try an online treatment modality, consider reaching out to a platform such as BetterHelp, which offers a growing database of counselors specializing in various areas, including depression. 

Naps Are A Temporary Fix—Therapy Is Long-Term Depression Support


Naps may be a temporary coping mechanism for depression, but they may exacerbate symptoms over time, including insomnia, feelings of sadness or guilt, or social isolation.

Treatment for depression, including therapy, medications, or lifestyle changes, may help permanently reduce depressive symptoms and prevent a recurrence of symptoms. If you’re ready to get support, consider contacting a counselor.

You Don’t Have To Face Depression Alone. Our Experienced Counselors Can Help.

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
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