Effects of REM sleep during a daytime nap on emotional perception in individuals with and without depression

Esther Yuet Ying LAU, Kristy Nga Ting LAU, Christian S. CHAN, Chia-huei TSENG, Yeuk Ching LAM, Desiree Man-Sik TSE, Wing Yee CHENG, Ka-Fai CHUNG, Yun Kwok WING

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Background: It has been theoretically proposed that alteration in sleep physiology may contribute to the development of biased emotional processing featured in depression. The current study investigated the role of sleep and especially REM in modulating perception of emotional faces in depressed versus non-depressed individuals using a napping paradigm.

Methods: Forty-six individuals with major depressive disorder and 66 age- and education-matched healthy controls completed an emotional face perception task before and after random assignment to one of the three intention-to-treat (ITT) conditions, namely 30-min-nap, 90-min-nap and wake. To delineate the effects of REM, as-treated (30-min-nap, 90-min-REM-nap, 90-min-noREM-nap and wake) analyses were also conducted.

Results: Repeated measures multivariate analysis of covariance (MANCOVA) showed a significant Time *Group *Condition interaction on angry faces for both analyses of ITT (p = .017) and AT (p = .027). Pairwise comparison with Bonferroni corrections revealed a significant increase in the intensity rating of angry faces only after 90-min-REM-nap in the depressed group. Correlational analyses convergingly showed that the increase of intensity rating of angry faces was associated with the proportion of REM sleep in the depressed group, p = .035.

Limitations: The observed effect of REM sleep during daytime napping may not represent the effect of nighttime REM sleep in depression.

Conclusions: We provide the first evidence of the association of daytime sleep, particularly REM sleep, with a more negative perception of angry faces exclusively in individuals with depression. The differentiated impact of sleep observed may contribute to the development of altered emotional processing in depression. Copyright © 2019 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)687-694
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Early online dateSept 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020


Lau, E. Y. Y., Lau, K. N. T., Chan, C. S., Tseng, C.-H., Lam, Y. C., Tse, D. M.-S., . . . Wing, Y. K. (2020). Effects of REM sleep during a daytime nap on emotional perception in individuals with and without depression. Journal of Affective Disorders, 260, 687-694. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2019.09.058


  • Sleep
  • Napping
  • REM sleep
  • Emotional processing
  • Emotional perception
  • Depression


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