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Neuropsychopharmacology. 2002 Feb;26(2):246-58.

Fluoxetine and sleep EEG: effects of a single dose, subchronic treatment, and discontinuation in healthy subjects.

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Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Albert-Ludwigs-University, Freiburg, Germany.


The goals of the current study were to evaluate whether a single dose of fluoxetine causes qualitatively different changes in sleep architecture and NREM sleep EEG than subchronic administration in healthy subjects and to determine degree and duration of such changes after the single dose and after discontinuation from subchronic administration. Our hypothesis was that subchronic intake should cause changes qualitatively different from the single dose and that such changes could be sufficiently long-lived to suggest the possibility of a dosing in intervals of several days. Ten healthy volunteers first took one single 60-mg dose of fluoxetine and a week later started to take a 40-mg dose every morning for three weeks. Sleep laboratory nights included two nights before and four nights after the single dose and every second night for two weeks after discontinuation from subchronic administration. The single dose caused only a slight increase in drug plasma concentrations but relatively clear changes in sleep structure. After discontinuation from subchronic administration, sleep quality indices normalized quickly (within 2-4 days), whereas REM latency and spectral power effects correlated with total SSRI plasma concentration and normalized more slowly, corresponding to the drug plasma half-life of about 10 days. The REM fraction of the sleep period showed a rebound, whereas the delta sleep ratio did not correlate with drug plasma levels and yet remained increased after the medication interval. Thus, the only qualitative difference seen between acute and subchronic medication was the initial sleep disturbance. REM latency and especially the delta sleep ratio remained increased for several days after discontinuation from subchronic administration, indicating the possibility of a less-than-daily maintenance medication after an initial daily interval. Finally, the pattern of change observed for the delta sleep ratio indicates that it may be due to secondary, adaptive effects possibly linked to the antidepressant effect of fluoxetine in depressed patients.

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