Q. My wife suffers from depression and sleep deprivation. She refuses to see a doctor or take any drugs. Are there any supplements or remedies that could help with her depression and sleep problems?
A. Sleeping problems and depression may be linked and often seem to intensify each other in a vicious cycle. The supplement most often considered for treating sleep deprivation is melatonin. Several studies suggest benefit, although the research is not definitive (Current Treatment Options in Neurology, Sept. 2009). We are sending you our Guide to Getting a Good Night’s Sleep, with many suggestions for non-drug approaches to overcoming insomnia, as well as a discussion of melatonin and other treatments.
One reader offered this experience:
“My doctor, a sleep specialist, told me to put four daylight lights in my bedroom. (They are also called ‘happy lights.’) Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time every morning. Set the alarm, then turn the clock around so you can’t see it. (I used to look at the clock every hour.)
“When the alarm goes off, get up, no matter how tired you are. Turn on the daylight lamps and spend half an hour in the room. You don’t have to look at them, just be in the room with them.
“After following that regimen for two weeks, I started waking up refreshed and ready to go. I had been desperate, like a zombie during the day and dreading bedtime. This worked for me!”