Irregular sleep-wake patterns in older adults with current or remitted depression

Jonathon Pye, Andrew JK Phillips, Sean W. Cain, Maryam Montazerolghaem, Loren Mowszowski, Shantel Duffy, Ian B. Hickie, Sharon L. Naismith

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29 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Disturbed sleep and irregular sleep-wake patterns have been associated with poor outcomes in older adults. Sleep regularity however has not been studied in a sample with current or remitted major depression. Methods: 138 participants (63.8±8.6 years; n=27 current major depression, n=64 remitted, and n=47 healthy controls) were monitored using wrist-worn actigraphy. The Sleep Regularity Index (SRI), sleep-wake fragmentation and stability, sleep onset and offset timing, number of awakenings and measures from cosinor analysis were computed. Results: Compared with controls, older adults with current depression had lower SRI (p < 0.01), lower relative amplitude (p < 0.05), and higher activity during sleeping and post-midnight hours (p < 0.05). Older adults with remitted depression displayed lower activity during the day (p < 0.05), showed reduced average activity and lower amplitude than controls. Total sleep time, sleep timing, and number of awakenings did not differ between groups. All groups differed significantly in self-reported sleep quality and depression severity. Limitations: Longitudinal studies which examine how sleep-wake patterns change based on depressive episode recency, severity and how medications may influence these patterns are needed. Conclusions: Older adults with current or remitted major depression do not differ from controls on traditional sleep metrics but do report poor quality sleep and show differences in sleep regularity and rest-activity patterns. Reducing the risk of poor outcomes in both groups may be aided by interventions that help promote sleep regularity and increased activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)431-437
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2021


  • Actigraphy
  • Circadian
  • Depression
  • Older adults
  • Rest-activity
  • Sleep regularity index

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