“More than 30 years since the discovery of the antidepressant effects of sleep deprivation, we still do not have an effective grasp on precisely how effective the treatment is and how to achieve the best clinical results,” said study senior author Philip Gehrman, PhD, an associate professor of Psychiatry and member of the Penn Sleep Center, who also treats patients at the Cpl. Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center. “Our analysis precisely reports how effective sleep deprivation is and in which populations it should be administered.”
Reviewing more than 2,000 studies, the team pulled data from a final group of 66 studies executed over a 36 year period to determine how response may be affected by the type and timing of sleep deprivation performed (total vs early or late partial sleep deprivation), the clinical sample (having depressive or manic episodes, or a combination of both), medication status, and age and gender of the sample. They also explored how response to sleep deprivation may differ across studies according to how “response” is defined in each study. “These studies in our analysis show that sleep deprivation is effective for many populations,” said lead author Elaine Boland, PhD, a clinical associate and research psychologist at the Cpl. Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center. “Regardless of how the response was quantified, how the sleep deprivation was delivered, or the type of depression the subject was experiencing, we found a nearly equivalent response rate.”
The authors note that further research is needed to identify precisely how sleep deprivation causes rapid and significant reductions in depression severity. Also, future studies are needed to include a more comprehensive assessment of potential predictors of treatment outcome to identify those patients most likely to benefit from sleep deprivation. This research was funded by National Institutes of Health grants (R01 HL102119, P30 NS045839, R01MH107571, R01MH098260, P41 EB015893, R01 MH080729), National Aeronautics and Space Administration grants (NNX15AK76A, NBPF02701, NNX08AY09G, NBPF03401, NBPF02501, NNX14AM81G, NX16AI53G), National Heart, Lung, and Brain Institute (U01 HL125388), National Institute on Drug Abuse (1 R21 DA040902-01A1), the Office of Naval Research (N00014-11-1-0361), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NNX14AN49G), National Space Biomedical Research Institute through NASA (NCC 9-58), and grant support from Merck and Philips Healthcare/Respironics.
In addition to Gehrman and Boland, additional authors include Rachel V. Smith from the Cpl. Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center, and Hengyi Rao, David F. Dinges, Namni Goel, John A. Detre, Mathias Basner, Yvette I. Sheline, and Michael E. Thase, all from Penn.