Sleep- The Key to Good Mental Health for Older Women
Original Article By: Denise Mann
A recent study done by Leslie Swanson and colleagues (2022) has found that older women who have irregular sleep schedules may be more prone to experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety, even if they get a normal amount of sleep. The study, which analyzed the sleep patterns and psychological health of close to 1,200 postmenopausal women, found that women with a sleep midpoint, or the halfway point in clock time between falling asleep and waking up, that fell outside of 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. were 72% more likely to report significant depression symptoms. Additionally, each hour of sleep schedule irregularity increased the chances of experiencing significant depressive symptoms by 68% and significant anxiety symptoms by 62%. Black women were found to have more irregular sleep patterns compared to white, Chinese, and Japanese women.
While it is unclear whether sleep patterns contribute to mood or if mood disorders lead to irregular sleep patterns, Dr. Rajkumar Dasgupta, an assistant professor of clinical medicine at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, does point out some tips to help improve mental health that might also improve sleep quality. One thing they recommend doing is practicing mindfulness and meditation. They also encourage women to engage in activities they enjoy and maintain their social connections. Additionally, sticking to a bedtime and wake-up schedule can have positive impacts on sleep quality.
Further research is needed to determine the cause-and-effect relationship between sleep and mood, particularly in postmenopausal women.
Swanson, L., et al. (2022). Sleep-Wake Irregularity, Depression, and Anxiety in Midlife and Older Women: Results from the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation (SWAN). Sleep Health. doi: 10.1016/j.sleh.2022.01.002
US News. (2023, January 9). Sleep key to good mental health for older women. US News. Retrieved from https://www.usnews.com/news/health-news/articles/2023-01-09/sleep-key-to-good-mental-health-for-older-women
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