The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) highlighted additional findings from its 2023 Sleep in America Poll that links sleep health with clinically relevant depression symptoms.

According to the poll, nearly one in five (19%) US adults who sleep less than the NSF-recommended seven to nine hours per night meet criteria for a probable clinical diagnosis of a depressive disorder.

The poll, released during the 25th anniversary of NSF’s Sleep Awareness Week, previously demonstrated meaningful connections between Americans’ sleep health and their mental health and wellness.

This year’s poll co-administered three NSF sleep health assessments—Sleep Health Index, Sleep Satisfaction Tool, and Best Slept Self Questionnaire—along with the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9), an established measure of symptoms of depression. Importantly, the PHQ-9 can be scored in a way to identify adults whose depression symptoms are consistent with a probable clinical depression disorder. 

“Where our initial focus was to help the public and policy-makers understand the very real connection between sleep health and depression symptoms in the general US population, we felt it was important to further highlight results that gave a clinically relevant signal, such as we saw using the PHQ-9,” says Joseph Dzierzewski, PhD, vice president of research and scientific affairs at National Sleep Foundation, in a release. 

Additional key results from the research showed:

  • One in every five adults (20%) with poor sleep health meet criteria for a probable depressive disorder. 
  • One in four adults (25%) who are dissatisfied with their sleep meet criteria for a probable depressive disorder. 
  • Almost one in five (19%) individuals who have difficulty falling asleep two or more nights per week meet criteria for a probable depressive disorder. 
  • Adults who performed high levels of healthy sleep behaviors are less than half as likely to meet criteria for a probable depressive disorder as adults who perform low levels of health sleep behaviors.

“These results go beyond just alerting people that sleep health and mental health are linked,” says David Neubauer, MD, a practicing psychiatrist and member of National Sleep Foundation’s board of directors, in a release. “The findings suggest there are cases where the connection between someone’s poor sleep and depression symptoms may be clinically meaningful and possibly have implications for their care.”

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