Too little sleep is a common complaint among people suffering from depression. In fact, low-quality sleep puts us at risk for the condition. As we age, our quality of sleep is at risk, and our risk for depression also increases.
The link between the two conditions a strong one that we have known about for a long time, but researchers have finally made the connection on a neural level. They now know one of the links between the two conditions within the human brain.
According to News Medical Life Sciences, Jianfeng Feng, a professor at the University of Warwick’s Department of Computer Sciences stated:
"The understanding that we develop here is consistent with areas of the brain involved in short-term memory (the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex), the self (precuneus), and negative emotion (the lateral orbitofrontal cortex) being highly connected in depression, and that this results in increased ruminating thoughts which are at least part of the mechanism that impairs sleep quality."
What does it all mean?
It means that scientists have finally discovered why out minds stay turned on and tuned in to negative emotions and thoughts long past the time when we should be sleeping peacefully in bed. It also means that, with this new understanding, they will be more able to focus on the parts of the brain where this connection can be found and may be able to treat patients who have not been responding to traditional medications or therapies.
Professor Edmund Rolls of the University of Warwick noted that,
"This study may also have implications for a deeper understanding of depression. This important cross-validation with participants from the USA provides support for the theory that the lateral orbitofrontal cortex is a key brain area that might be targeted in the search for treatments for depression."
There are already treatment possibilities in the works, including using a form of magnetic therapy to stimulate the part of the brain that is affected.
While we are waiting for them to come up with a functioning therapy, don’t forget to do what you can to make sure you get enough quality sleep. When looking for an assisted living facility, check to see if the sleeping area will allow for regular and uninterrupted rest.
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