Short-term sleep deprivation may improve symptoms in some patients who suffer from depression, findings of a new study have revealed.

Effect Of Sleep Deprivation On People With Depression

Health experts recommend getting sufficient amount of sleep at night. People tend to function well when they get sufficient amount of rest.

Sufficient sleep is recommended for mental health, but researchers of a new study found evidence suggesting that short-term sleep deprivation may actually have antidepressant effects that can benefit people who suffer from depression.

Philip Gehrman, of the Penn Sleep Center, and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis of 66 studies made over a span of 36 years. They found that partial sleep deprivation, or sleeping for just three to four hours and then being forced to stay awake for 20 to 21 hours, may improve symptoms of depression within 24 hours.

"Sleep deprivation — typically administered in controlled, inpatient settings — rapidly reduces symptoms of depression in roughly half of depression patients, according the first meta-analysis on the subject in nearly 30 years," reads the news release on Penn Medicine.

The researchers said that further studies are needed to determine how sleep deprivation can help reduce the severity of depression. Further research is also needed to identify patients who are most likely to benefit from sleep deprivation.

"These findings support a significant effect of sleep deprivation and suggest the need for future studies on the phenotypic nature of the antidepressant response to sleep deprivation, on the neurobiological mechanisms of action, and on moderators of the sleep deprivation treatment response in depression," the researchers wrote in their study, which was published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.


Depression is a common mental illness marked by persistent sadness and loss of interest in normally enjoyable activities. The condition is also characterized by the inability to carry out daily activities for at least 14 days.

The World Health Organization (WHO) named depression as the world's leading cause of sickness and disability. The United Nations agency said that more than 300 million people worldwide currently live with the condition.

Dangers Of Depression

Health experts have identified a strong link between depression and noncommunicable disorders and diseases. It raises the risk for substance use disorders and cardiovascular problems. It is also an important risk factor for suicide.

Treating Depression

Antidepressants are currently the most common treatment given to people with depression. These drugs generally take weeks or even longer to show results, but 16.7 percent of adults in the United States filled at least one psychiatric drug in 2013.

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