Does your sleep pattern affect how well antidepressants work?
Researcher expected to find less sleep helps antidepressants work better because previous studies have found 4 or 5 hours sleep to be ideal. So they were surprised to find this wasn’t the case during this study (Arendt et al. 2016).
At 6 hours in bed, the researchers discovered that 63% of the participants on the anti-depressants saw improvements. When the participants had eight rather than six hours sleep they experienced even more improvements.
Earlier studies had shown adequate sleep aids the anti-depressants work and this new study has gone on to show more sleep helps them more. It’s lucky that more sleep was needed because the participants found it very taxing to have just 6 hours sleep, so had it been the recommendation, it would not have been followed by patients.
Sleeping a normal amount seems the best advice so far, but the researchers are hoping to go on to find the ideal amount of sleep needed to make the anti-depressants work best, given an individual’s natural circadian rhythm. We do not know from these studies if staying in bed longer, as some depressed people find themselves doing is a good thing for the working of the anti-depressants or not.
I wonder whether this says more about the way the body is trying to heal itself: thought sleep. I have observed depression leads to more sleep. I think its possible this is a route to wellness rather than a symptom to be avoided. More research is obviously needed, involving controls who have decided not to go the anti-depressant rout too.
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