Does Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Alter Sleep?

Sleep is crucial. It’s one of the essential biological functions for a healthy life. If you suffer from poor sleep quality or duration, you can be more prone to a weak immune system and struggle to fight off minor viruses and infections, weight problems, minor injuries, major car accidents, chronic medical conditions, and mood disorders.

According to Medic, Wille, and Hemels, sleep deprivation results in the following short-term effects in otherwise healthy adults:

  • Increased Stress Hormones and Responses
  • Somatic Pain (stomachaches, headaches, etc.)
  • Emotional Distress
  • Increased Risk for Mood Disorders
  • Cognitive, Memory, and Performance Deficits

They also found that long-term sleep deprivation contributes to the development of chronic diseases such as weight-related conditions, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and colorectal cancer.

Depression and Sleep

Unfortunately, if you already have a mood disorder like depression, you likely will experience sleep disruptions. Depression and sleep problems are inextricably linked. Poor sleep can contribute to depression and vice versa, meaning depression can also cause poor sleep. You may experience trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or feeling excessively drowsy during the day. Approximately 80% of depression patients report periods of insomnia, and 40% of people with insomnia have clinical depression.

Traditional medications for your depression have side effects that can affect your sleep quality, worsening your sleep problems and creating new long- or short-term issues. TMS is a medication-free alternative depression treatment. When people enter depression remission, thanks to TMS, they sleep better. Understandably, there is a concern that it affects sleep. Before considering it as a treatment option, you should know what TMS is and its effect on your dream time.

What Is TMS?

You may want TMS in Bellingham to treat your major depression disorder (MDD.) TMS can also treat treatment-resistant depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other mood disorders.

It’s an effective, non-invasive, outpatient treatment you can complete and continue with your daily activities. TMS doesn’t require any anesthesia or systemic medications to treat your symptoms. When you first begin, a small number of patients may experience a slight headache or scalp discomfort during treatment that typically subsides within the first week. However, you avoid the long-term side effects of anti-depression medications, such as insomnia, dry mouth, nausea and other digestion problems, weight gain, and sexual dysfunction.

You can relax in a comfortable treatment chair, watch TV, or listen to music. At the same time, the TMS machine delivers MRI-like magnetic pulses to your left frontal lobe, the part of your brain regulating your feelings, emotions, and mood. These pulses help stimulate healthy brain function so your depression symptoms abate.

Does Transcranial Magnetic Brain Stimulation Affect Sleep?

In short, yes. However, it doesn’t result in negative sleep patterns like insomnia or sedation. Studies show repetitive TMS can be a therapeutic option for sleep disorders.

  1. The primary evidence for the FDA’s approval of TMS for depression treatment, Rosenquist et al. found that TMS has no intrinsic effect on sleep in patients with MDD.
  2. The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine published a study in 2022 looking at the effects of TMS on sleep quality and mood in patients with MDD. The researchers found that repetitive TMS improved both mood and sleep quality independently.
  3. According to Nardone et al., repetitive TMS has the potential to be a non-pharmacological treatment option for several sleep disorders. They found TMS improved symptoms of primary insomnia, restless leg syndrome, obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, narcolepsy, and sleep bruxism: teeth grinding and jaw clenching.

Watch Out For Depression

If sleep is a battle for you, you may have trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions, and remembering things. You can feel tired throughout the day, like you’re in a fog, have slowed speech and body movements, and have delayed reactions. You may crave unhealthy or sugary foods to get you through the day, causing weight gain over time. You might have unexplained headaches or stomach aches.

These are also symptoms of depression, so routinely run through the other signs and symptoms of depression to ensure your poor sleep isn’t developing into something else:

1. Intense Feelings

You can experience feelings of sadness and tearfulness. Or you can simply feel hopeless or incredibly empty and void. You can have angry outbursts or feel irritable and frustrated over minor things. You can be prone to anxiety, agitation, and restlessness. You might have guilt or worthlessness that causes you to fixate on past mistakes.

2. Loss of Interest

You can experience a lack of pleasure or little to no interest in things that once brought you joy. You may lack work motivation, not want to socialize with friends or family, avoid your favorite sports or hobbies, and have a diminished sex drive.

3. Thoughts About Death

You might have frequent or recurrent thoughts about passively dying, like falling asleep and never waking up or having a terrible accident that results in a quick death. You might have suicidal thoughts, creating plans to kill yourself or actually attempting them.

If you suffer from sleep problems combined with the above symptoms, you must seek professional help immediately. Your health provider can discuss treatment options like TMS to help with sleep and mood issues.