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Studies have demonstrated that decreases in slow-wave activity (SWA) predict decreases in depressive symptoms in those with major depressive disorder (MDD), suggesting that there may be a link between SWA and mood. The aim of the present study was to determine if the consequent change in SWA regulation following a mild homeostatic sleep challenge would predict mood disturbance.
Thirty-seven depressed and fifty-nine healthy adults spent three consecutive nights in the sleep laboratory. On the third night, bedtime was delayed by 3 h, as this procedure has been shown to provoke SWA. The Profile of Mood States questionnaire was administered on the morning following the baseline and sleep delay nights to measure mood disturbance.
Results revealed that following sleep delay, a lower delta sleep ratio, indicative of inadequate dissipation of SWA from the first to the second non-rapid eye movement period, predicted increased mood disturbance in only those with MDD.
These data demonstrate that in the first half of the night, individuals with MDD who have less SWA dissipation as a consequence of impaired SWA regulation have greater mood disturbance, and may suggest that appropriate homeostatic regulation of sleep is an important factor in the disorder.