National Sleep Foundation Highlights Evidence in General US Population Connecting Sleep Health with Probable Depressive Disorder

Home National Sleep Foundation Highlights Evidence in General US Population Connecting Sleep Health with Probable Depressive Disorder
Written by Doug Hampton

Analysis shows link between sleep health and clinically relevant depression symptoms

WASHINGTON, May 24, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Today, the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) highlighted additional findings from its 2023 Sleep in America® Poll, which previously demonstrated meaningful connections between Americans’ sleep health and their mental health and wellness. Among key findings were that nearly 1 in 5 (19%) US adults who sleep less than the NSF-recommended 7-9 hours per night meet criteria for a probable clinical diagnosis of a depressive disorder.

Released during the 25th anniversary of NSF’s Sleep Awareness Week®, this year’s poll uniquely 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. 

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 1 in 5 (19%) individuals who have difficulty falling asleep 2 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.

“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,” said Joseph Dzierzewski, PhD, Vice President of Research and Scientific Affairs at National Sleep Foundation.

Sleep health is crucial to our overall health and well-being. As the United States continues to address the far-reaching effects of a national mental health crisis, this year’s Sleep in America Poll findings come at an important time and support the ongoing work of other leading public health and advocacy organizations including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), multiple divisions of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the American Psychological Association (APA), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), and Mental Health America, among others who recognize mental health as a critical issue facing our nation today.

“These results go beyond just alerting people that sleep health and mental health are linked,” said David Neubauer, MD, a practicing psychiatrist and member of National Sleep Foundation’s Board of Directors. “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.”

For more sleep health information and to learn ways to help be your Best Slept Self®, visit

If you’re still not getting the sleep you need after taking some basic steps, or if you have lasting symptoms, it’s a good idea to talk with your healthcare provider. That’s especially true if you are having challenges with your mood or feelings of depression. You are not alone. For anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts, please seek care. Contact the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by calling or texting 988.

About the National Sleep Foundation
The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation dedicated to improving health and well-being through sleep education and advocacy. Founded in 1990, the NSF is committed to advancing excellence in sleep health theory, research and practice. │

About the Sleep in America® Poll
The Sleep in America Poll is the National Sleep Foundation’s premier annual review of current sleep topics. The Poll was first conducted in 1991 and has been produced since 2018 by Langer Research Associates. The full Sleep in America Poll findings, including methodology, can be found at

SOURCE National Sleep Foundation

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