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Relationship Found Between Sleep Patterns and Clinically Relevant Depression


This new study has found that patients with short and long sleep duration had higher risks of clinically relevant depression.

A new study has found that certain sleep patterns may be associated with an increased risk of clinically relevant depression (CRD), according to findings published in Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences.

Major depression has been found to be the third leading cause of disease burden across the globe, with cases of depression increasing 49.86% from 1990 to 2017, the study authors noted. Although the results have been mixed, several studies have been conducted to determine the relationship between sleep and depression.

This study used National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data from 2007 to 2014 on participants aged 20 to 79 years. Depression was assessed with the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9). Sleep duration and trouble sleeping were self-reported and participants (N = 17,859) were asked how often they smoked.

Forty-nine percent of the participants were men, the mean (SD) overall age of the group was 47.3 (16.5) years, and the overall prevalence of CRD was 9.5%, with more women than men having CRD (12.3% vs 6.7%).

Participants with poor sleep tended to be older, female, physically inactive, heavy smokers, and live alone, and to have a higher comorbidity index, a lower education level, and poor eating quality. Participants who slept for less than 7 hours or more than 9 hours were 1.91 and 4.06 times more likely to have CRD, respectively, in age- and gender-adjusted models. Short (odds ratio [OR], 1.66; 95% CI, 1.39-1.98) and long sleep duration (OR, 2.75; 95% CI, 1.93-3.92) were significant after adjusting for confounders.

Trouble sleeping (OR, 3.04; 95% CI, 2.59-3.56) was linked with CRD vs those who did not report sleep complaints. Participants who had a poor sleep pattern were also associated with a higher possibility of CRD (OR, 5.98; 95% CI, 4.91-7.29). A link was seen for all age groups between a rising tendency of depression and poor sleep pattern, although this was especially evident in individuals aged 30 to 44 years and 45 to 59 years.

There were some limitations to this study. Reverse causality could not be ruled out due to the design of the study, sleep disorders were not clearly defined, and recall bias could be in play due to the self-reporting nature of the sleep disorders.

The researchers concluded that this study demonstrated an independent and combined relationship between sleep disorders and the risk of CRD, and they acknowledged that further studies will be required to determine the causal or bidirectional relationship between sleep and depression risk.


Chunnan L, Shaomei S, Wannian L. The association between sleep and depressive symptoms in US adults: data from the NHANES (2007-2014). Epidemiol Psychiatr Sci. 2022;31(e63):1-9. doi:10.1017/s2045796022000452

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