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Pharmacopsychiatry. 1987 Sep;20(5):195-6.

Lithium carbonate: effects on sleep patterns of normal and depressed subjects and its use in sleep-wake pathology.

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Unité des Troubles du Sommeil Centre Gui de Chauliac, Montpellier, France.


The effects of lithium carbonate on sleep patterns have been investigated both acutely in normal and depressed subjects and chronically in depressed subjects. In normal subjects receiving lithium for two weeks total sleep time did not vary, REM sleep decreased and REM sleep latency increased. In depressed subjects, either on short therm therapy or on long term therapy stages 3 and 4 increased, REM sleep decreased, REM latency increased and REM activity/time spent asleep (an index of REM intensity per minute of sleep) decreased. Plasma lithium levels were negatively correlated with REM sleep percentage and positively correlated with REM sleep latency. Besides, it has been shown in one paper that short term therapy with lithium caused small but significant delays in the sleep-wake circadian rhythm. These effects are of interest in view of polygraphic sleep abnormalities found in affective disorders and possible circadian disturbances accounting for these abnormalities. Indeed lithium might act in correcting spezial sleep abnormalities and/or circadian disturbances. In addition to its predominant use for the prophylaxis of recurrent mania and depression, lithium carbonate has been proposed and tried in the prophylactic treatment of abnormally prolonged sleep episodes featuring the Kleine-Levin syndrome.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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