Does exercise improve self-reported sleep quality in non-remitted major depressive disorder?

C. D. Rethorst, P. Sunderajan, T. L. Greer, B. D. Grannemann, P. A. Nakonezny, T. J. Carmody, M. H. Trivedi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Background Sleep disturbances are persistent residual symptoms following remission of major depressive disorder (MDD) and are associated with an increased risk of MDD recurrence. The purpose of the current study was to examine the effect of exercise augmentation on self-reported sleep quality in participants with non-remitted MDD. Method Participants were randomized to receive selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) augmentation with one of two doses of exercise: 16 kilocalories per kilogram of body weight per week (KKW) or 4 KKW for 12 weeks. Depressive symptoms were assessed using the clinician-rated Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology (IDS-C). The four sleep-related items on the IDS-C (Sleep Onset Insomnia, Mid-Nocturnal Insomnia, Early Morning Insomnia, and Hypersomnia) were used to assess self-reported sleep quality. Results Significant decreases in total insomnia (p < 0.0001) were observed, along with decreases in sleep onset, mid-nocturnal and early-morning insomnia (p's <0.002). Hypersomnia did not change significantly (p = 0.38). Changes in total, mid-nocturnal and early-morning insomnia were independent of changes in depressive symptoms. Higher baseline hypersomnia predicted a greater decrease in depression severity following exercise treatment (p = 0.0057). No significant moderating effect of any baseline sleep on change in depression severity was observed. There were no significant differences between exercise treatment groups on total insomnia or any individual sleep item. Conclusions Exercise augmentation resulted in improvements in self-reported sleep quality in patients with non-remitted MDD. Given the prevalence of insomnia as a residual symptom following MDD treatment and the associated risk of MDD recurrence, exercise augmentation may have an important role in the treatment of MDD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)699-709
Number of pages11
JournalPsychological Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2013


  • Key words Augmentation
  • depression
  • exercise
  • insomnia
  • physical activity
  • sleep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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