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Sleep Duration and Depression

Post brought to you by content partners Labrix Clinical Services


sleep-55792_1280The relationship between sleep and depressive illness is complex – depression may cause sleep problems and sleep problems may cause or contribute to depressive disorders.

Insomnia is very common among depressed patients. Evidence suggests that people with insomnia have a ten-fold risk of developing depression compared with those who sleep well.

The “normal” amount of sleep for any individual is age dependent and determined by the amount required to maintain physiological homeostasis and daytime alertness. Studies of humans in environmental isolation suggest 7 to 9 hours per night encompasses normal sleep for the majority of individuals.

Two recently published studies have found a link between sleep duration and depression

The first study of 1,788 adult twins utilized quantitative genetic models to assess whether sleep duration modifies genetic and environmental influences on depressive symptoms. Among twins with a normal sleep duration of 7 to 8.9 hours per night, the total heritability of depressive symptoms was 27 percent. The genetic influence increased to 53 percent among twins with a shorter sleep duration of just five hours a night and 49 percent among those who reported sleeping 10 hours a night. According to researchers, the findings suggest that those who sleep shorter — or longer — than the normal eight or so hours a night increased the genetic risk for depressive symptoms.

Another study of 4,175 children between the ages of 11 and 17 found that sleeping six hours or less a night increased the risk for major depression, which in turn increased the risk for decreased sleep.

“These results are important because they suggest that sleep deprivation may be a precursor for major depression in adolescents, occurring before other symptoms of major depression and additional mood disorders,” said principal investigator Robert E. Roberts, Ph.D., professor of behavioral sciences in the School of Public Health at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, Texas.

Neuroendocrine imbalances may be at the root of sleep disturbances and insomnia. Labrix’ Neurohormone Complete Panel is a simple, non-invasive way for providers and patients to accurately identify hormone and neurotransmitter imbalances that may be contributory to sleep concerns and established or potential mood disturbances. Find out more about assessing, identifying and addressing neuroendocrine imbalances by attending one of our upcoming Core Trainings.
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  • Dijk DJ, Duffy JF, Czeisler CA. Age-related increase in awakenings: Impaired consolidation of NREM sleep at all circadian phases. Sleep. 2001;24:565-77.
  • Roberts RE, Duong HT. The prospective association between sleep deprivation and depression among adolescents. Sleep. 2014 Feb 1;37(2):239-44.
  • Watson NF, et al. Sleep duration and depressive symptoms: a gene-environment interaction. Sleep. 2014 Feb 1;37(2):351-8.
  • Weitzman ED, Czeisler CA, Zimmerman JC, Ronda JM. Timing of REM and stages 3 + 4 sleep during temporal isolation in man. Sleep. 1980;2:391-407.
  • Accessibility verified 2/2/15

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