To examine whether mindfulness meditation (MM) was associated with changes in objectively measured polysomnographic (PSG) sleep profiles and to relate changes in PSG sleep to subjectively reported changes in sleep and depression within the context of a randomized controlled trial. Previous studies have indicated that mindfulness and other forms of meditation training are associated with improvements in sleep quality. However, none of these studies used objective PSG sleep recordings within longitudinal randomized controlled trials of naïve subjects.
Twenty-six individuals with partially remitted depression were randomized into an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) course or a waitlist control condition. Pre-post measurements included PSG sleep studies and subjectively reported sleep and depression symptoms.
According to PSG sleep, MM practice was associated with several indices of increased cortical arousal, including more awakenings and stage 1 sleep and less slow-wave sleep relative to controls, in proportion to amount of MM practice. According to sleep diaries, subjectively reported sleep improved post MBCT but not above and beyond controls. Beck Depression Inventory scores decreased more in the MBCT group than controls. Improvements in depression were associated with increased subjective sleep continuity and increased PSG arousal.
MM is associated with increases in objectively measured arousal during sleep with simultaneous improvements in subjectively reported sleep quality and mood disturbance. This pattern is similar to the profiles of positive responders to common antidepressant medications.
BDI = Beck Depression Inventory;
EEG = electroencephalogram;
EMG = electromyogram;
EOG = electrooculogram;
HRSD = Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression;
MBCT = Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy;
MM = mindfulness meditation;
NWAK = number of awakenings;
PSG = polysomnograph;
RCT = randomized controlled trial;
REM = rapid eye movement;
SE = sleep efficiency;
SOL = sleep onset latency;
SWS = slow-wave sleep;
TIB = time in bed;
TST = total sleep time;
WASO = wake after sleep onset.