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New research identifies distinct sleep and circadian profiles in seasonal depression

Original Article By: Emily Manis

Summarized By: Neurobit

A study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research has examined the different patterns and profiles of sleep disturbances associated with seasonal depression in order to improve future treatments. Seasonal depression, a type of mood disturbance that typically occurs during the winter, is thought to be linked to sleep and circadian rhythms. The study, led by Delainey L. Wescott of the University of Pittsburgh, recruited 103 participants aged 18-65 and collected data during the winter months.

The data they collected consisted of completed clinical interviews, biomarker measures of the circadian phase, actigraphy data, and sleep diaries. The findings revealed that there were two main clusters of sleep disturbance: a "disrupted sleep" cluster and an "advanced" cluster. The "disrupted sleep" cluster was characterized by irregular, fragmented, and less efficient sleep, while the "advanced" cluster was characterized by longer, earlier sleep and circadian timing.

These differing profiles have implications for treatment and intervention. The 'disrupted sleep' group would more likely benefit from cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia and the 'advanced' cluster is likely to better respond to behavioral activation which encourages socializing instead of settling early.

However, it should be noted that the study has some limitations, including a small sample size for cluster analysis, and the fact that the actigraphic measures were not as valid or reliable when used for less than 7 nights. The researchers stressed the importance of replication of these findings and further research to better understand the etiology of mood dysregulation.


Manis, E. (2023, January 12). New research identifies distinct sleep and circadian profiles in seasonal depression. PsyPost. Retrieved January 13, 2023, from

Wescott, D. L., Wallace, M. L., Hasler, B. P., Klevens, A. M., Franzen, P. L., Hall, M. H., & Roecklein, K. A. (2021). Sleep and circadian rhythm profiles in seasonal depression. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 136, 106-115. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2021.09.013

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