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Psychiatry Res. 1983 May;9(1):69-79.

REM latency and depression: computer simulations based on the results of phase delay of sleep in normal subjects.


A phase advance of the circadian rhythm of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep propensity relative to the sleep-wake cycle has been hypothesized to account for the abnormalities of REM sleep in depression. One implication of this hypothesis is that an acute phase delay of sleep in normal subjects should produce the same abnormalities of REM sleep. A further implication is that changes in REM sleep that occur in normal subjects with delay shifts of sleep of progressively greater magnitude describe those that occur during the course of a depressive episode. This hypothesis was tested by computer simulation using two equations which, given the data derived from normal subjects experiencing phase delays of sleep, generated the REM latencies expected during successive stages of a depressive episode. For severely depressed patients, the computer-generated data matched those found empirically. The known correlation between severity of depression and REM latency, and the REM latencies of recovered patients, are consistent with the hypothesis.

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