…in some cases!
From our doctors, to the media and our caregivers, we are constantly bombarded by reminders of the importance of adequate and restful sleep. Through these same sources, we know that an adult requires between 7-9 hours of sleep a night. But, while bringing awareness to the many health benefits of sleep, these wonderful advice dispensers often leave out mentioning the benefits of sleep deprivation and conversely the harms of oversleeping.
Although the relationship between sleep and depressive illness is complex (depression may cause sleep problems and sleep problems may cause or contribute to depressive disorders) sleep deprivation used as a treatment for depression is efficacious and potent: it works quickly, is relatively easy to administer, and relatively safe. Sleep deprivation can elevate your mood even if you are not depressed, and can induce euphoria.
And the evidence is clear! Mothers with postpartum-depression were observed to gain instant relief from depression with sleep deprivation, and sleep deprivation has been shown an effective treatment in patients with clinical depression. On the other hand, a well-known and commonly prescribed treatment for mania is sleep!
Although the research available clearly points to the benefits of sleep deprivation as a treatment for depression, the intention of this article is not to recommend sleepless nights in order to become euphoric as we know chronic sleep deprivation can take years off of your life! By presenting the benefits of sleep deprivation, the goal here is to bring awareness to the harms of oversleeping. Each individual is unique with regards to the number of hours their body requires for sleep and it is important for us each to discover OUR particular sleep requirements.
An article in TIME Health mentions the following:
“Studies show that people who sleep between 6.5 hr. and 7.5 hr. a night, as they report, live the longest. And people who sleep 8 hr. or more, or less than 6.5 hr., they don’t live quite as long. There is just as much risk associated with sleeping too long as with sleeping too short. The big surprise is that long sleep seems to start at 8 hr. Sleeping 8.5 hr. might really be a little worse than sleeping 5 hr.”
So, although we’ve been fed the advice of “need for sleep”, it appears less sleep (of equal quality) is better than more sleep!