Sleep deprivation in depression: preparation and conduct, consequences, feedback

Sleep deprivation with the aim of treating depression first began to be practiced in one of the Swiss clinics in the 70s of the last century. In this state, a person loses sleep intentionally or forcibly. From historical sources it is known that this practice was used in ancient Rome. Its inhabitants deprived themselves of night rest in order to increase productivity.

features of consciousness during sleep deprivation

Practice in the history of mankind

Sleep deprivation is, quite simply, a deprivation of night rest. This method is almost the only one that can take a person out of a severe melancholic state in a matter of hours. This practice usually takes place in psychiatric institutions.

In ancient Rome, they knew that a sleepless night spent behind entertainments can save a person from the symptoms of mental longing for a short time.For many centuries, this practice has been undeservedly forgotten. It was reopened in 1970 in one of the psychiatric hospitals in Switzerland. After that, interest in it increased, but gradually priority returned to other methods of treating depression — in particular, medication.

The meaning of the method

Sleep deprivation treatment is carried out in psychiatric hospitals, since the application of this method is unpredictable and must be carried out under the supervision of a specialist. The essence of the method is as follows - a person simply misses one night. He wakes up, for example, on Monday morning and decides that today he will take up this practice. His day passes as usual. Then a sleepless night follows, and after it another day of wakefulness. He goes to bed on Tuesday evening and rests for about 10 hours. The deprivation cycle, therefore, ranges from 36 hours.

Types of procedure

For the targeted treatment of depressive conditions, three main types of sleep deprivation are used. Each of them has certain features.

sleep deprivation and drug treatment
  • Total. It lies in the fact that a person is awake for 36-40 hours.Sleep well before the procedure. Further, the person does not sleep during the day, night and the next day. This technique is quite complicated. It entails unpredictable consequences. To achieve positive results in the treatment of depressed patients with this method, the experiment is conducted twice in the first week. Then deprivation is carried out once a week for 4-6 weeks.
  • Partial deprivation. The technique is based on reducing the amount of sleep to a critical level. Rest lasts no more than 4 hours a day. Gradually, the body gets used to this state. For some, the feeling of being broken disappears already on day 4. For other patients it takes several weeks to achieve the desired result.
  • Deprivation of REM-stage sleep. This stage is otherwise called paradoxical sleep. During it, there is a high activity of the brain. The meaning of derivation at this stage is to deprive sleep exactly at this time. As soon as the devices give a signal of the occurrence of the REM stage, the patient will be awakened. Then he falls asleep again. Such short-term awakenings continue throughout the night.The effectiveness of this technique is higher than the previous two. However, it is more difficult to implement, since special equipment and the presence of somnologists is necessary.

How to carry out the procedure?

At this time, patients are advised to occupy themselves with an interesting affair, which requires mental activity. Physical activity should be minimal. Avoid boring activities (TV or reading a long classic novel can work as a sleeping pill). It is useful to pre-plan a lesson, to sketch a list of interesting cases.

sleep deprivation reviews

In order for the experiment to be successful, patients are also recommended to observe the following rules:

  • Do an interesting affair. If during the whole time of the procedure to think about how not to fall asleep, most likely this will happen. An exciting hobby will help increase the production of dopamine, which will facilitate the deprivation.
  • Change the assessment of the situation. In order to overcome the natural physical need, it is recommended to consider the procedure not as sleep deprivation, but as wakefulness.
  • Postpone responsible work and important decisions. Deprivation distorts perception of reality.The best option is to do the work to which the brain is already accustomed.
  • Restrict traffic on the street. The brain can not perceive moving vehicles, the risk of deactivation of consciousness in the middle of the road is high. On the day after a sleepless night, it is recommended not to leave the house at all.
  • Do not abuse coffee. This drink can help overcome the night. But it disrupts the work of the central nervous system, which reduces the effect of the procedure, and also loads the cardiovascular system.
how to spend sleep deprivation

Features of sleep deprivation in depression

In patients with melancholia, this type of therapy allows to achieve the following results:

  • Partial remission. The patient is not immune from repeated episodes of depression, even when taking potent drugs. When voiced relapse, this practice can be extremely useful. Of course, it is carried out only as indicated by the doctor.
  • Reducing the risk of suicide. The nervous system of a person who is constantly depressed is subject to severe stress. Obsessive thoughts about leaving the life can prevail over the mind, which increases the risk of suicide. Sleep deprivation in depression significantly reduces this life-threatening syndrome.
  • The inability to take drugs.If the patient, in addition to depression, suffers from allergies, and is forbidden to take antipsychotics and anti-depressant drugs, depriving them of night rest becomes the best option.
  • An additional method of therapy. Often the procedure prescribed in conjunction with drug treatment. It is most appropriate for long-term depression.

Psychiatrists recommend not to perceive reduced emotional background as a trifle not worth attention. After all, the effects of depression can be irreversible. Therefore, you should consult with a specialist about the possible use of sleep deprivation as a method of getting rid of melancholic symptoms.

sleep deprivation in depressed state

Side effects during the experiment

Already in the morning after the first session, the symptoms of depression disappear, the person becomes much easier psychologically. But when he goes to bed and wakes up the next morning after a 40-hour experiment and subsequent sleep, the symptoms of depression return with more force. The only means of dealing with a reduced emotional background is repeated prolonged wakefulness.According to reviews of sleep deprivation, the second experiment is most painfully perceived.

The main side effects are drowsiness, high irritability. People who suffer from increased aggressiveness, even more experience the effect of this quality. Peak sleepiness usually occurs at midnight and the time before sunrise (5-6 am).

The consequences of sleep deprivation are not the most pleasant. Patients note that during sleep deprivation, performance is seriously reduced. Fatigue comes quickly. Fatigue is very hard to fight.

According to studies, constant lack of sleep leads to irreversible changes in the brain. Partial deprivation of sleep is not recommended to abuse.

Benefit and harm

This procedure is considered useful for the following reasons:

  • Allows you to eliminate the symptoms of depression without the use of medicines.
  • Allows you to significantly improve the quality of sleep.
  • Increases the speed of work.
  • Helps to quickly reproduce information from short-term memory.

Neurologists consider deprivation of night rest as a necessary procedure to cope with various mental disorders, anxiety, aggressiveness.In their opinion, it is quite enough to use partial deprivation, shortening night sleep to 4-5 hours. But with depression, sleep deprivation will be most effective if it lasts 36-40 hours.

But the deprivation of night rest for therapeutic purposes has many opponents. After all, lack of sleep, according to scientists, leads to the accumulation in the body of a large number of toxins. It provokes Alzheimer's and Parkinson’s. Also, sleep deprivation can be one of the causes of heart problems, gastrointestinal tract, oncology, premature aging. Sleep deprivation also impairs the body’s immune system.

side effects of sleep deprivation

Cognitive impairment in sleep deprivation

Full sleep deprivation leads to an increase in the speed of the declarative-methodical memory. In other words, if the patient is offered to perform any work that he already knows how to do, then the speed and attention during its performance will be at its best.

But many of those who have tried this method of therapy say that with prolonged deprivation of sleep, creativity suffers. A person in such a state may believe that he is visited by brilliant thoughts.But in reality it will only be a figment of the imagination. One day after deprivation, changes are observed in the mind, resembling the symptoms of schizophrenia or alcohol intoxication.

When deprivation lasts more than 48 hours, the state of a person is similar to narcotic intoxication. The symptoms in this case are the following:

  • Changed perception of reality.
  • Loss of sense of time.
  • All sorts of hallucinations.
  • Realization.
  • High fatigue.

Emotional changes

One of the most important consequences of sleep deprivation concerns the effect of the procedure on the emotional background. When wakefulness lasts more than 48 hours, a person becomes more nervous and irritable, and becomes very suggestible. He has a reduced ability to critically assess the environment, regulate his emotions, and distinguish the unimportant from the important. A completely neutral event causes an increased emotional reaction.

Illusions and Visions: Another Side Effect

Another unpleasant consequence of sleep deprivation is hallucinations. Of course, they do not appear in all cases, but it is impossible to predict the appearance of this phenomenon.

Deprivation of a night rest lasting more than five days is rightly considered dangerous to the state of mind. Some people who did not sleep for several days did not just notice the occurrence of auditory and visual illusions. Hallucinations did not disappear even after a full sleep.

In science there is no exact explanation for this phenomenon. However, the following version is considered to be the most generally accepted: the senses, with a prolonged lack of rest during the night, begin to falter. In other words, a person sees something, but information for data processing does not enter the brain. The effect is similar to what occurs when a person is immersed in a special bath, in which neither auditory, nor visual, nor tactile information comes to him. If there are no external signals, the brain begins to produce the missing information itself, creating its own images.

Auditory illusions arise after two days of deprivation. If the procedure lasts more than 2 hours, visual hallucinations appear. Everything that happens seems unreal to man. He loses the sense of time. A stream of thoughts rushes through his head, which it might take a whole day to think about in the normal state.Depending on the psycho-emotional state, hallucinations can be both friendly and hostile.

EEG and sleep deprivation

How is the EEG with sleep deprivation

Electroencephalography method is one of the most popular types of diagnostics. Thanks to this method, it is possible to determine the fluctuations of the state of cells in different parts of the brain. The use of modern devices allows to obtain information about the state of various parts of the brain in a short period of time.

The result of the EEG diagnosis is displayed as a curved line that occurs as the recording of the electrical activity of the brain.

EEG with sleep deprivation is one of the most informative methods for examining the brain. This procedure is shown for sleep disorders, epilepsy, hormonal disorders, psychosis, panic attacks. Often, patients with impaired cerebral circulation are referred to this examination. How is an adult EEG with sleep deprivation? During the procedure, a cap with electrodes is attached to the head, which, on the other hand, are attached to the equipment. Electrodes allow you to register electrical impulses in nerve cells,displaying them on the monitor screen. During the procedure, the patient is sitting in a chair or lying.

Patient preparation

Electroencephalography with sleep deprivation is performed under the following conditions:

  • With on and off bright light.
  • With a loud sound.
  • With deep breathing.
  • During sleep after sleep deprivation.

How to prepare for EEG with sleep deprivation? The main point - the observance of all prescriptions of the doctor. It is important to continue taking medications prescribed by a specialist. 12 hours before the procedure, it is necessary to abandon energy drinks, coffee and other stimulants. Before the procedure, you must wash your head without the use of masks, balms or oils - otherwise the contact of the electrodes with the skin will be weaker. The patient during the procedure should be calm, not nervous.

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