REM sleep and depressive symptoms in a population-based study of middle-aged and elderly persons

J Sleep Res. 2015 Jun;24(3):305-8. doi: 10.1111/jsr.12273. Epub 2015 Jan 8.


Alterations in rapid eye movement sleep have been consistently related to depression in clinical studies. So far, there is limited evidence from population-based studies for this association of rapid eye movement sleep alterations with depressive symptoms. In 489 participants of the Rotterdam Study, we assessed rapid eye movement sleep latency, rapid eye movement sleep duration and rapid eye movement density with ambulant polysomnography, and depressive symptoms with the Center of Epidemiologic Studies-Depression Scale. A longer rapid eye movement sleep latency (B = 0.002, P = 0.025) and higher rapid eye movement density (B = 0.015, P = 0.046) were related to depressive symptoms after age-sex adjustment. When we excluded persons who used sleep medication or medication for the nervous system (n = 124), only rapid eye movement density remained related to depressive symptoms (B = 0.018, P = 0.027). Our results suggest that rapid eye movement density is a marker of depressive symptoms in the general population, and that associations of rapid eye movement sleep with depressive symptoms are modified by the use of medication.

Keywords: depression; epidemiology; polysomnography; rapid eye movement density.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / administration & dosage
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polysomnography
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Sleep, REM / drug effects
  • Sleep, REM / physiology*


  • Hypnotics and Sedatives