Friday, April 18, 2008

Insomnia and the Blues

A new study published in the journal Sleep reveals that people with insomnia are more likely to develop depression later in life. The traditional thinking is that insomnia is a symptom of depression, but the authors argue that insomnia may come before depression.

My take on this is: "So what,this is old news". However, if you were to look at insomnia from a sleep-breathing paradigm which I describe in my forthcoming book, Sleep, Interrupted the issue becomes a lot more complex and all that more meaningful.

In the book I propose that both insomnia and depression are manifestations of interrupted breathing while sleeping that deprives you of deep, restful, restorative sleep. This process begins in early childhood, and is affected by multiple factors, including anatomic issues, diet, infections or stressful situations.

The beauty of my sleep-breathing paradigm is that it doesn't contradict what's out there in insomnia knowledge and research. Instead, it suggests a revolutionary approach on thinking about medical concepts that we take for granted. For the most part, it even agrees with and supports the evidence in insomnia research. My theory is that it's not important which comes first (insomnia or depression), but that both can coexist together. If this is so, what can cause both to occur?

This is another example of the peculiarities of medical research when you try to isolate and correlate one variable against another. Yes, you'll get some interesting results, but more often than not, you'll end up asking more questions as a result, or end up with multiple conflicting results. Once you look at humans as a complex interaction of innumerable processes, by looking at the "big picture," things just make more sense. This is one of my overriding themes in my book.

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