Fighting the winter blues: Sleep and seasonal depression

A woman holds a pillow while sleeping in a bed.
Stress related to the pandemic is keeping more Americans up at night. While data on pandemic insomnia is still limited, mental health and sleep can be related.
Photo by Ivan Oboleninov from Pexels file

The coronavirus pandemic has led to new levels of stress, anxiety and depression among Americans. A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that more Americans are reporting declining mental health

That CDC survey was conducted back in June, when many of us could still spend time outdoors. As the temperatures drop, daylight hours diminish and social isolation continues due to the pandemic, experts worry that seasonal depression will have a harsher effect this year.

In normal circumstances, seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, affects only about 6 percent of the U.S. population.

What happens when more people than usual are experiencing symptoms of depression? 

Stress related to the pandemic is also keeping more Americans up at night. While data on pandemic insomnia is still limited, mental health and sleep can be related.

MPR News host Angela Davis asked our experts for their tips on combating seasonal depression and getting a good night’s rest.

Guests:

  • Dr. Michael Howell is a neurologist and vice-chair for education and faculty affairs in the Department of Neurology at the University of Minnesota. He is also the director of the sleep performance training for athletes program at M Health Fairview.

  • Dr. Saydra Wilson is a neuromodulation fellow and a board-certified psychiatrist at the University of Minnesota Medical School.

Use the audio player above to listen to the program.

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