The problem with anti-depressants is that they often don’t work.
Though many try, it’s hard to treat depression with antidepressants alone. Treatment may go on for years, and the side effects, like fatigue, anxiety, loss of libido, and sleep disruption, can be frustrating.
Dr. Willoughby Britton at Brown University Medical School and her colleagues at the University of Arizona wanted to find out whether mindfulness could help with sleep disruption – one of the most common side effects of antidepressants.
Researchers randomly assigned 23 participants, all of whom were taking antidepressant medications, to one of two interventions. Some received a mindfulness-based cognitive therapy course while others were placed on a waitlist to serve as a control.
Throughout the 9-week study, subjects in both groups completed sleep diaries, including their total sleep time, time in bed, latency of sleep onset, sleep quality, and other measures.
Researchers also took polysomnographic and electroencephalographic recordings before and after the treatment phase.
There were two major findings.
First, people who got the mindfulness training reported significantly greater sleep time compared to the controls. They also reported a better ratio of time asleep to time spent in bed.
But what’s even more interesting is that the polysomnographic data supported the self-report measures. In other words, people who got mindfulness training were getting more sleep – objectively.
This study adds to the research that suggests mindfulness could be a useful aid for clients with depression.
Imagine if mindfulness could help with side effects of other psychoactive medications – I’d be interested to see more research done on this.
If you want to read the whole study, you can find it in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics.
Have you ever suggested mindfulness to a client having trouble sleeping? Please leave a comment below.