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Sleep Duration Linked to Depression Risk

Update Date: Jan 31, 2014 05:42 PM EST

Sleeping more or less than normal can increase the risk of depression, according to a new study.

A new study of 1,788 adult twins suggests that sleep durations outside the normal range increase the genetic risk for depressive symptoms.

The latest research revealed that the total heritability of depressive symptoms was 27 percent in twins with normal sleep duration of seven to 8.9 hours per night. However, the genetic influence on depressive symptoms increased to 53 percent among twins with short sleep durations of five hours per night and 49 percent in twins who reported sleeping 10 hours per night.

"We were surprised that the heritability of depressive symptoms in twins with very short sleep was nearly twice the heritability in twins sleeping normal amounts of time," principal investigator Dr. Nathaniel Watson, associate professor of neurology and co-director of the University of Washington Medicine Sleep Center in Seattle, Washington, said in a news release. "Both short and excessively long sleep durations appear to activate genes related to depressive symptoms," added Watson, who also serves on the board of directors of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

"Healthy sleep is a necessity for physical, mental and emotional well-being," American Academy of Sleep Medicine President Dr. M. Safwan Badr saidin a statement. "This new research emphasizes that we can make an investment in our health by prioritizing sleep."

Researchers said the findings suggest that optimizing sleep may be one way to increase the effectiveness of depression treatments.

The findings are published in the journal Sleep.

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