The effects of mirtazapine on sleep: A placebo controlled, double-blind study in young healthy volunteers
Mirtazapine is classified as a noradrenergic and specific serotonergic antidepressant. This study aims at objectively investigating the effects of single-dose mirtazapine on sleep of healthy volunteers. We studied the effect of acute administration of mirtazapine (30 mg) on the sleep polysomnogram, using a double-blind, placebo-controlled design. Subjects spent 3 consecutive nights in the laboratory. First night allowed for adaptation to the laboratory and application of electroencephalogram electrodes, while the second and third nights were reserved for recording baseline sleep and studying the effects of drug treatment, respectively. Young healthy volunteers (n=20), with a mean age of 24 years, were randomly separated into two groups: placebo (n=10) and mirtazapine (n=10). On the third night, subjects received either placebo or mirtazapine. Comparisons were made between sleep variables from baseline values in both groups. Independent samples t-test was utilized to evaluate the differences between the two groups. Mirtazapine improved the variables related to sleep continuity when compared with placebo. It increased the sleep efficiency index, while decreasing the number of awakenings and their duration. The slow wave sleep time was increased, while the stage 1 sleep time was decreased significantly. There was no significant effect on rapid eye movement sleep variables. Our findings suggest that mirtazapine has considerable effects on slow wave sleep. Further studies are recommended to investigate the efficiency of antidepressants, in respect to the effects of 5-HT2 blockade on slow wave sleep.