RAD-SD Study 

Rapid Anti-Depressant Effects of Selective Sleep Deprivation


Principal Investigator: Adriane Soehner, PhD

Co-Investigators: Mary Phillips, MD; Boris Birmaher, MD; Daniel Buysse, MD

 Coordinator: Kathleen Scully, B.S

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we will be conducting screening procedures and the first laboratory visit via phone or online. Participants will need access to the internet. 

The SAND lab is taking all of the necessary precautions to keep our participants safe and healthly during these difficult times!

We will be screening participants for COVID-19 symptoms before their visit and again at their visit. We will be providing face masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer to all participants that come into the lab. We are thoroughly cleaning and sanitizing any and all surfaces that participants may come in contact with in accordance to the CDC guidelines. We will be sanitizing all surfaces after each participant visit. During participant’s visits, we will also be maintaining social distancing guidelines.

All staff members will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms before each participant visit. All staff members will wear face masks and maintain social distancing guidelines at all times.

Please email with any questions!


Rapid-acting antidepressant strategies are urgently needed for youth. However, benefits from standard treatments usually take weeks or months to manifest and, still, a third of patients with depression do not respond to existing therapies. Available rapid acting antidepressant therapies (e.g., electroconvulsive therapy, ketamine) have considerable side-effects, which lessens their appeal for youth. Non-medication chronotherapeutic interventions may be a viable and safer means of rapidly improving depression in youth.

RAD-SDis testing a non-invasive and non-medication approach for improving mood that involves selectively suppressing a part of sleep that is abnormal in depression.  This approach does not affect sleep duration. Rather, tones are played during sleep to keep a specific stage of sleep from occurring. These tones are calibrated before sleep so that they do not wake you up. Research has shown this approach to be helpful in depressed adults.

Participation in the RAD-SD study involves: Three – four laboratory visits. At the 1st visit, a parent and their teen complete interviews and questionnaires about sleep, mood & medical history. This visit can be completed over the phone or via Microsoft Teams. If eligible, teens will be invited to participant in 3 consecutive overnight sleep assessments at the UPMC Sleep and Behavioral Neuroscience Center.  Upon coming to the lab, you will first complete some questionnaires. Your sleep will then be objectively monitored with polysomnography each night. On one 1 out of the 3 nights we will play auditory tones to selectively suppress certain aspects of sleep. This does not affect sleep duration. In the morning you will complete questionnaires. A subset of participants will be asked to participate in two 30-min brain scans which occur on the first 2 out of 3 mornings using functional MRI. Breakfast is provided.

Your teen may qualify for the RAD-SD study if they are:

  • 13-18 years old
  • Currently depressed
  • No history of bipolar disorder or schizophrenia
  • No serious medical or neurological conditions
  • Not taking psychiatric medication other than Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)

The RAD-SD study was funded by a grant from the Klingenstein Third Generation Foundation