Don’t Sleep, Be Happy

Have you ever had that experience where you and your friends are up studying late at night and you hit this wall where you can’t think straight? You all start to giggle at things that are not funny and next thing you know, you are all in the WEIRDEST mood? This state of tired giggles is something I have always heard being called the “Sleepy Ha Ha’s.” It is a mood you can enter where you are ridiculously tired and in desperate need of sleep and you find yourself high on your own exhaustion.

I decided to see if I could find any research done on this very small phenomenon few people have heard of. Although I did not find much information specifically focused on the “Sleepy Ha Ha’s,” I came across several studies that addressed a very interesting thesis: Sleep deprivatsearchion can help ease depression.

This theory was first suggested in the 1970s by researcher Gerald W. Vogel. He compared 14 non-depressed control patients and 14 depressed patients who matched in age and lack of sleep. Vogel than concluded from his results that sleep deprivation, specifically the deprivation of the REM stage of the sleep cycle, improved depression. Today, researches have been able to continuously correlate sleep deprivation and an improvement in depression, however they are still in search of the mechanism.

Recent studies from the Department of Psychology and Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute of the University of California, Berkeley has begun to form a connection between sleep deprivation and the brain’s ability to release positive stimuli. Glial cells called astrocytes regulate the human brain’s chemical that controls sleep. They release adenosine and as this neurotransmitter builds up, the urge to sleep gets stronger and depression seems to be improved but only temporarily, until the person falls asleep.

To test if sleepiness eases depression, The Translational Physciatry Journal reported how scientists performed an experimental study where they injected mice that had depression-like symptoms with adenosine so although they slept, the mice had an increased amount of the neurotransmitter that created the sleepiness feeling. Once they were awake, it was reported that the mice had an immediate rise in their moods for approximately 48 hours.

Now this study forces me to ask: How do mice have depression-like symptoms? What is beingimages measured to diagnose a mouse with depression? What do researches use to detect an elevation in the mood of a mouse? Although this study at first seemed to create a strong correlation between a build-up of adenosine and relief of depression, one must step back to ask how these researchers concluded the mice were at one point depressed and then were no longer depressed. With such a soft-endpoint, a false positive could easily occur with this study.

Take Home Message: So based on this study alone, should you avoid sleep to ease your depression? I would say no. Although this study may support evidence of the alternative hypothesis, mice and humans are very different and more information on how the researchers measured depression in mice would be necessary. Now, based on the years of research for this thesis, should you avoid sleep? I would say maybe it would be worth asking your doctor about since other scientists have found strong correlations between the two. However, we must keep in mind that correlation does not equal causation, so if it were up to me, I would definitely discuss with professionals.

4 thoughts on “Don’t Sleep, Be Happy

  1. Jordan Smith

    I agree with your take home message. Another way to think about it would be that depriving yourself of sleep would come with a host of other side effects. The cons outweigh the benefits when there is no conclusive evidence that sleep deprivation eases depression in humans as opposed to mice. Here’s an article explaining about why studies on mice are being seen as not very reliable in terms of gathering data for humans.

  2. Cristen Heaton

    Okay, this post actually relates to my life so well currently. I am going through the same problem right now. My depression has made its way back into its full swing and I was just talking to my doctor about how I sleep a lot and for long hours at a time. The recommended amount of sleep for a female my age is 7-8 hours according to my doctor. I usually try to get between 7 and 8, but I recently have been noticing if I get at least 7 hours of sleep I feel wonderful but if I get more than 7 hours I start to feel not rested when I wake up. It’s SO weird! The study I attached below is a cool read because it looks at the high school age people. Check it out!!! Great blog post 🙂

  3. Olivia Anne Browne

    Great post. You did a great job of pulling in class concepts into your post. Once I began to read this post , I somewhat Immediately disagreed. When I am tired I am the most grouchy person you will ever meet. I don’t think I have ever been so tired that I was giddy. Your study was very insightful due to the fact that it was easy to follow and gave some good information. I also think your conclusion paragraph was very well written and convincing to overall rule out your hypothesis and suggest the alternative hypothesis.
    Check out this article on oversleeping.

  4. Zihan Wang

    Hi, Shannon Hughes. I am interested in your topic that can sleep more ease stress. You use too much class material in blog such as causation doesn’t equal to correlation. The mice experiment is interesting that sleepiness does eases depression. After injection, the mood of mice rise rapidly in 48 hours. The result of this experiment illustrate your hypothesis well. As for your take home message paragraph, you direct give me a conclusion that sleep is a good way to ease depress. If avoiding sleep, depression won’t be relieved in a short time. Sleep is not only the way to ease depression, and here is a video about your topic and other way to get over depression.

Leave a Reply