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Alterations in rapid eye movement sleep have been consistently related to depression in clinical studies. So far, there is limited evidence from population-based studies for this association of rapid eye movement sleep alterations with depressive symptoms. In 489 participants of the Rotterdam Study, we assessed rapid eye movement sleep latency, rapid eye movement sleep duration and rapid eye movement density with ambulant polysomnography, and depressive symptoms with the Center of Epidemiologic Studies-Depression Scale. A longer rapid eye movement sleep latency (B = 0.002, P = 0.025) and higher rapid eye movement density (B = 0.015, P = 0.046) were related to depressive symptoms after age-sex adjustment. When we excluded persons who used sleep medication or medication for the nervous system (n = 124), only rapid eye movement density remained related to depressive symptoms (B = 0.018, P = 0.027). Our results suggest that rapid eye movement density is a marker of depressive symptoms in the general population, and that associations of rapid eye movement sleep with depressive symptoms are modified by the use of medication.

Original publication




Journal article


J Sleep Res

Publication Date





305 - 308


depression, epidemiology, polysomnography, rapid eye movement density, Aged, Depression, Female, Humans, Hypnotics and Sedatives, Male, Middle Aged, Polysomnography, Psychiatric Status Rating Scales, Sleep, REM