Sleep & Mood (The SHY Sleep Hypothesis)

How Sleep Affects Mood


Sleep has been an exciting area of study for centuries because it is an activity that takes up a third of your lifetime and dictates the overall performance of the body. Considering how important sleep is in the scheme of our daily lives, those suffering from sleep disorders are curious on the affect that this has on their bodies. Throughout all of this research there is a solid indication that lack of sleep, over time, does have an affect over your mood. Experts researching the correlation between sleep deprivation and depression have found some pretty surprising results.


Sleep disorders and insomnia are not directly related to depression, but having a sleep disorder does have an effect on depression. In a very recent study, it was found that healthy sleep resets brain activity that builds up in the early morning hours. The renewal of your brain’s connectivity is crucial to allowing memories to develop so that you can adapt and learn from your surroundings. If you lose one night’s sleep, you have blocked the ability for your brain to naturally reset. When this occurs, the neurons in your brain are connecting too much and so confused with electrical impulses that memories cannot be established or retained much longer. This is an exciting concept because this lack of sleep is a promising way to treat depression and related conditions.


As far as radical therapies go, sleep deprivation treatment ranks fairly high. Through this process, patients are intentionally kept in a sleep deprived state so that the patterns of their brains are reset and tested. Sleep is actually a huge source of high functioning brain activity, and this occurs because our brains have to literally process and absorb all of the information that we have received during the day. There are so many events that we live through in a day, from books we are reading, sites that we take in, or even songs that we listen to on the radio. Sleep is the only time that your brain really has to recharge and sort everything out.


The synaptic homeostasis hypothesis, is a theory that was developed in 2003 by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, supports the newest information discovered about sleep deprivation. In this theory it is stated that, upon awaking, synapses fire in your brain are strengthened, and they continue to strengthen more through our learning until our brain is completely flooded with information. The entire process takes a significant amount of energy, and thus our brains use the process of sleep to rest and refresh.


In recent experiments, it was found that those with sleep deprived brains were easier to trigger responses. A woman, who had not slept, had magnetic pulses applied to her brain to trigger muscle spasms. Since she was sleep deprived, it was easier for her muscles to twitch. However, upon laying down to go to sleep it was harder to get neurons to respond. This difficulty with response is a sign that the brain couldn’t write down memories effectively. Sleep does allow the brain to slow down so that memories can be recorded, and the downside is that these brains are frantic with electrical energy that won’t record proper memories.


Those that suffer from depression, when living through one night of sleep deprived sleep, report a large increase in their mood on the next day. These depressed brains also show other improvements in cognitive function and motivation. Although these results are exciting, many of the patients reverted back to their depression after they had received a normal night’s sleep. Even though the results aren’t long lasting, this gives researchers the incentive to study brain activity and discover new depression treatments.


The brain is the powerhouse of the body and is responsible for so many daily functions including memories and learning. This new research for depression will offer insight into the connection between complex neurological functions, what actual occurs during the process of sleep, and serious mental disorders like depression and schizophrenia. Through all of this new research, experts expect to pinpoint why sleep deprivation is so effective in the brains of people struggling with depression. A window has been opened, and this new and noninvasive research could prove to be an effective tool to fight depression that isn’t pharmaceutically based.

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