Can Antidepressants Boost Deep Sleep?

published by Ryan@Zeo on Fri, 02/10/2012 – 16:34
User Question: 
I have tried the Lyrica and have noticed an increase in Deep sleep. I would like to know more about antidepressant and their affects on sleep, in particular those that increase time in Deep sleep.
Short Answer : 
In general, it is not advisable to take anti-pain medications for the purpose of getting better sleep, as this is not their intended purpose. While Lyrica (pregabalin) appears to increase Deep sleep in healthy patients, keep in mind that scientists and physicians alike don’t know the long term side effects of increased Deep sleep for people not suffering from depression or mood disorders.

Most antidepressants do not directly affect Deep sleep staging, except for some MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors) that are only prescribed for cases in which the more current medications are not responsive.

That said, antidepressants can impact one’s sleep in other ways. For example, the very common class of antidepressants known as SSRIs (selective-serotonin-reuptake-inhibitors) can drastically reduce the time spent in REM sleep. Many people on SSRIs in fact lose much of their dream recall due to this effect, while at the same time report more intensely negative and bizarre dreams when they can recall them.

Keep in mind, that while the value of Deep sleep is its association with brain restoration, it’s not know exactly what is the role of Deep sleep for the body.For instance, there’s some evidence that Deep sleep is involved in the regulation of metabolism, as people who are selectively deprived of Deep sleep have an increased risk for diabetes.

However, getting more deep sleep isn’t always the best. In fact, decreasing slow wave sleep in those with depression can alleviate symptoms. Elevated levels of slow wave sleep are also common in those suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome. Finally, increased levels of deep sleep are associated with antisocial behavior, specifically severe aggression.

Sleep is really holistic and all sleep phases are important for good health. So the best baseline for evaluating sleep health remains your own sense of wellbeing throughout the day. From this starting point, you can monitor the conditions that provide for –or disrupt—your individual sleep style.

Ferguson, J.M. “SSRI Antidepressant Medications: Adverse Effects and Tolerability,” Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry. 2001 February; 3(1): 22–27
Tasali E, Leproult R, Ehrmann DA, Van Cauter E “Slow-wave sleep and the risk of type 2 diabetes in humans,”Proceedings for the National Academy of Sciences. 2008 Jan 22;105(3):1044-9
Landsness EC, Goldstein MR, Peterson MJ, Tononi G, Benca RM “Antidepressant effects of selective slow wave sleep deprivation in major depression,”Journal of Psychiatric Research. 2011 Mar 10
Lindberg N, Tani P, Takala P, Sailas E, Putkonen H, Eronen M, Virkkunen M. “Increased deep sleep in a medication-free, detoxified female offender with schizophrenia, alcoholism and a history of attempted homicide,”BMC Psychiatry. 2004 Oct 26; 4, 35.
Neu D, Cappeliez B, Hoffmann G, Verbanck P, Linkowski P, Le Bon O “High slow-wave sleep and low-light sleep: chronic fatigue syndrome is not likely to be a primary sleep disorder,” Journal of Clinical Neurophysiology. 2009 Jun; 26(3):207-12.
Pace-Schott EF, Gersh T, Silvestri R, Stickgold R, Salzman C, Hobson JA. “SSRI treatment suppresses dream recall frequency but increases subjective dream intensity in normal subjects,” J Sleep Res. 2001 Jun;10(2):129-42
Pagel, J.F. and Parnes, B.L. “Medications for the Treatment of Sleep Disorders: An Overview,” Primary Care Companion; Journal Clinical Psychiatry. 2001; 3(3): 118–125
Hindmarch I, Dawson J, Stanley N “A double-blind study in healthy volunteers to assess the effects on sleep of pregabalin compared with alprazolam and placebo,” SLEEP. 2005 Feb;28(2):187-93


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *