Major depressive disorder is a debilitating condition with a lifetime risk of ten percent. Most treatments take several weeks to achieve clinical efficacy, limiting the ability to bring instant relief needed in psychiatric emergencies. One intervention that rapidly alleviates depressive symptoms is sleep deprivation; however, its mechanism of action is unknown. Astrocytes regulate responses to sleep deprivation, raising the possibility that glial signaling mediates antidepressive-like actions of sleep deprivation. Here, we found that astrocytic signaling to adenosine (A1) receptors was required for the robust reduction of depressive-like behaviors following 12 hours of sleep deprivation. As sleep deprivation activates synaptic A1 receptors, we mimicked the effect of sleep deprivation on depression phenotypes by administration of the A1 agonist CCPA. These results provide the first mechanistic insight into how sleep deprivation impacts mood, and provide a novel pathway for rapid antidepressant development by modulation of glial signaling in the brain.