Résumé : The regulation of the alternation between rapid eye movement sleep (REMS) and non-rapid eye movement sleep (NREMS) is still a matter of much debate. It is also an important topic for psychiatric research, since both sleep components show anomalies in Major Depressive Disorders (MDD) and related syndromes. In previous studies on healthy controls, we showed preferential links of the number of ultradian cycles with REMS-related variables rather than with NREMS-related variables. REMS Latency (RL), for example, was shown to be inversely related to the number of cycles. The present study replicates these analyses in a group of 29 patients with MDD (age range: 23-56; 16 females), after two adaptation nights. Results showed significant correlations between the number of cycles and REMS, and between the number of cycles and RL, whereas correlations with NREMS were not significant. This indirectly supports regulation hypotheses considering REMS as the main focus of the oscillation, inhibiting and interrupting NREMS. Also, when the RL is shorter, there are more ultradian cycles than when the RL is long. This adds an interesting element in the elucidation of the physiological meaning of anomalies of RL. © 2007 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.