Can sleep patterns tell us the severity of our anxiety or depression?

We know that anxiety and depression affect many of you, with 7 out of 10 adults in the U.S. saying they experience stress or anxiety daily. Depression and anxiety can have a huge impact on our daily lives and overall health. It can affect our mood, social interactions, sleep and more, but can our daily behaviors predict the severity of our anxiety and depression? Our research team sought to find out more.

What we tested

We enrolled over 1,000 participants in a clinical study with self-reported anxiety and depression and assessed the participants’ mental health states by looking at the following for each individual:

  • Anxiety and depression symptoms
  • Number of hospitalizations and ER visits for anxiety/depression
  • Use of anxiety and depression medications

We then looked at participants’ sleep metrics and patterns for the previous three months.

What we learned

Severe depression was significantly associated with inconsistent and disordered sleep patterns, such as spending a great amount of time in bed awake. Individuals taking medications for their anxiety and/or depression were likely to sleep more compared to those not receiving treatment, however, they also had inconsistent sleep patterns. Participants who had been previously hospitalized for anxiety and/or depression were more likely to have inconsistent sleep patterns as well.

What does this mean?

We all know that a lack of sleep can affect our daily lives, but it can also be associated with severe depression and anxiety. This means that certain sleep patterns might be able to predict the severity of an individual’s mental well-being in the future. With further research we’d like to understand if tracking sleep behavior could predict changes in the severity of an individual’s mental health condition.

Thanks to all of our Achievers who participated in this research about how daily behaviors, like sleep, can tell help researchers to better understand anxiety and depression. If you’re interested in contributing to innovative research, we are regularly running new studies at Achievement.

We’d love to learn how this research resonates with you. Do you digitally track your sleep or mood? What have you learned?