Scientists for the first time have identified a neural link between depression and sleep issues in a new study. The basis for this association is increased functional connectivity between certain brain regions.
Researchers at the University of Warwick and Fudan University, China analysed ~10,000 individuals to investigate the neural mechanisms underlying the relation between depression and quality of sleep.
The findings revealed that the areas in the brain associated with short-term memory (dorsolateral prefrontal cortex), self (precuneus) and negative emotions (lateral orbitofrontal cortex) were strongly connected in individuals with depression. This could result in increased ruminating thoughts leading to impaired sleep quality.
Depression and sleep problems often coexist. Nearly 75% of patients with depression report difficulty of falling asleep and insomnia. Similarly, individuals with insomnia may also have an increased risk for depression and anxiety compared with those who sleep normally.
According to the authors, this research could lead to better sleep quality for individuals with depression and can boost the development of new targeted treatments for the condition.