A glitch

REM and depression

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I’ve discovered that when I sleep in past 7am (or whenever it starts getting bright outside), I feel depressed for the whole day. This may be the source of my years of regular, mild depression. I’m not clinically depressed by any means, but the bouts were regular enough to be problematic. If I wake up close to 7am/sunlight, my heart is beating rapidly from some sort of sleep-induced stress, but I don’t feel any negative mood. The longer past 7am I sleep, the more I sink into REM, and the worse I feel. Usually it’s accompanied by a dream that makes no sense but leaves me feeling gloomy, probably due to the REM combined with sunlight.

There must be evolutionary reasons for this. In the past year I’ve rarely slept past 7am because of my work schedule, and depressive episodes are far less common than before. Better diet may be allowing for immediate sleep (within 15 seconds, often less), and immediate wake-up, which prevents bad REM. This has removed almost all day-long depressive episodes. Exercise seems to have little effect, as my regimen has gone from 6 days/week a year ago to 2-3 days/week or sometimes even 1 day/week, yet I feel less depressed than a year ago.

My girlfriend also reported recently that after sleeping in, she had a nonsensical dream followed by a gloomy day. Our brains do strange things. REM combined with sunlight might be triggering a fight-or-flight response to prevent us from being eaten by lions in our sleep, hence an increased heart rate when waking up. And the longer we sleep past that point, the more confused our brain becomes when interacting with the sunlight. Maybe this is why when I woke up at 6:45 without an alarm this morning, my heart was beating so fast I could have sprinted off the bed. And I felt good all day.

Written by xout

June 24, 2010 at 1:12 pm

Posted in health

Tagged with , ,

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