A surprising new study found that sleep deprivation can offer a short-term alleviation of depression symptoms. Researchers at University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine found that half of the study participants diagnosed with the disorder benefited from sleep deprivation.
Scientists couldn’t say why exactly sleep deprivation can have such a huge impact on a person’s mood. The team noticed that a significant change in one person’s sleep patterns seems to reboot the internal circadian clock.
However, the research revealed that depression makes a comeback as soon as the person goes to sleep.
Sleep deprivation acted as a natural antidepressant in half of surveyed cases despite the severity of the condition and medication. A researcher called the effects of sleep deprivation on depression patients ‘bizarre’.
Sleep Deprivation Benefits the Brain
However, the benefits of sleep deprivation were first documented in the 19th Century. Over the last three decades, around 75 studies altered patients’ sleep schedules to treat depression. Yet, no one reviewed those studies and we did not know how conclusive they were.
Researchers warn that sleep deprivation does not work for everybody. In extreme cases, it can lead to cardiovascular conditions, suicidal thoughts, and even more depression.
Study authors found that being sleep deprived a single night does not benefit the patient in the long run, but it does seem to help some of those with depression reset and rewire.
The research team thinks that the unexpected benefits may have something to do with the circadian rhythms, which are severely disturbed in depressed people. So, forgoing a sleep cycle seems to reboot those rhythms, which apparently helps in fixing those disturbances.