Sleep deprivation is the condition you don’t get enough sleep. It can be temporary or chronic.
Usually long-term sleep deprivation can cause fatigue, sleepiness in daytime, clumsiness or body weight change. It can also affect brain functions.
However, for people who suffer from depression, sleep deprivation may be a good thing: recent research has shown that this uncomfortable condition can help reduce depression symptoms in about 50% of patients.
The study is a meta-analysis about research findings in nearly 30 years, and it is conducted by University of Pennsylvania.
The researchers also found that partial sleep deprivation (sleeping only 3-4 hours and then be awake for about 20-21 hours) is as effective as total sleep depression (being awake for 36 hours).
The findings are published in Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.
Compared with antidepressants, sleep deprivation is a faster way to reduce depression symptoms. Most common antidepressants take weeks to reduce depression, while sleep deprivation can reduce symptoms within 24 hours.
In 2013, about 17% of the US adults filled one or more prescriptions for psychiatric drugs, and many of them suffered from depression. The current findings may provide alternative solution for their problems.
The meta-analysis reviewed more than 66 studies over a 36-year period to seem how response may be affected by the type and time of sleep deprivation performed, the severity of depression, medication history, and age as well as gender.
They found 40-60% of people with depression gained benefit from sleep deprivation, independent of their medication status and depression severity.
The researchers suggest that future work is needed to see how sleep deprivation causes rapid and significant reductions in depression. The new finding will benefit more people who have depression symptoms.