forced sleep deprivation and depression

J Wootton jwootton at
Wed Mar 28 05:55:13 EST 2001

dag.stenberg at wrote:

> In bionet.neuroscience Nathan_miami <asdf at> wrote:
> > Is there any medical research linking forced sleep deprivation and
> > depression?  While I am fine when getting 7.5+ hours of sleep per night, I
> > become severely depressed and have suicidal ideations when I am forced to
> > get by on less than six (6) hours of sleep.   My line of work (management
> > consulting) often requires me to work long hours and put in 80+ hours per
> > week. I would like to make the switch to Investment Banking where the hours
> > are even more grueling. However, I don't think I can handle the lack of
> > sleep.
> Yes, there is abundant medical research linking forced sleep deprivation
> and depression. The literature can be found easily through Medline (e.g.
> ), and is partly referred to in most
> recent books on sleep medicine.
>   Very briefly as a general summary:
> - sleep loss induces a "sleep debt" in brain performance which affects
> especially prefrontal cortical functions, like working memory, the
> ability to concentrate, motivation, problem-solving.
> - in healthy humans, sleep loss very often induces depressive symptoms,
> even suicidal thoughts
> - BUT: in patients with major depression, restriction of sleep
> alleviates the depression on the day after sleep loss, but depression
> returns after a night with normal sleep. There are theories why
> depressive patients react differently from healthy people, but I'll skip
> that for now.
> - the individual need for sleep varies: 5 hours a night is as normal as
> 10 hours a night. Unfortunately, a long sleeper cannot train to become a
> short sleeper, because the biological difference is somewhere in the
> genes (and where, we do not yet know).
> It is important to make the general public understand that a person who
> has a sleep debt does not perform normally, and may constitute a risk
> in traffic, industry or other work situations. Sleep debt may follow
> from one or two nights of total sleep loss, or from chronic partial
> sleep loss, like sleeping only 4 (or even 6) hours a night for a week.
> At present, the psychophysiological impairments resulting from sleep loss
> are well known, and documented in numerous studies on humans, but the
> cellular and molecular mechanisms (which have to be studied in cats, rats
> and mice) less so. Until further notice, the only way to alleviate
> sleep loss is to sleep.

May I add?
the only way to alleviate sleep loss is to get good sleep (ie make sure there are
no causes of sleep disorders such as RLS, apnea, GERD etc), regular sleep hours
(approx same bed/wake time, every night)  and an adequate amount of sleep (8-9
hours every night) for life...  (something that the original poster has not and
does not seem prepared to do)

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