According to information from a new study, patients with obstructive sleep apnea should avoid even dim lighting when sleeping since it was discovered that when the light mingles with the sleep apnea, the patients are more likely to suffer from depression. Research was conducted by scientists at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. The results of this study were published online by the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology.
“Although it is unclear at the present time whether sleep apnea causes depression, both conditions are commonly seen together in patients. Our research suggests that sleeping even with a minimum amount of light may increase symptoms of depression in those with sleep apnea,” said Dr. Ulysses Magalang, director of Ohio State’s Sleep Disorders Center and a co-author of the study.
The study was conducted with scientists examining mice that were placed in sleep apnea-like conditions that were the same as when patients with sleep apnea suffer from lowered oxygen levels. During the study, half of the mice were placed in dark places for sleep and the others were put in a room with dim lighting. The mice that were in the dim light group experienced more anxiety and depressive symptoms, while those that slept in complete darkness experienced less depressive symptoms.
“Not only were these changes observed during field and maze tests, but we also recorded physical changes, including a reduction of cell size in the hippocampus, an area of the brain important in memory and spatial navigation,” said Taryn Aubrecht, first author of the study and a neuroscience graduate student at Ohio State.
“The combination of dim light exposure and sleep apnea appears to result in increased depressive and anxiety-like behaviors in mice, so limiting exposure to light at night could be a very simple strategy to help patients with sleep apnea,” Magalang said. “We’re currently exploring further human testing.”
Depression is a condition that affects millions of people worldwide. The condition is often treated with antidepressant drugs like Paxil or Effexor. Paxil and Effexor have been known to cause patients to suffer from violent and suicidal thoughts and behavior as well as lead to birth defects in babies born to mothers who take the pills while pregnant. The birth defects linked to Paxil use include PPHN, spina bifida, neural tube defects, oral clefts and heart, lung and brain defects.