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New Link Between Sleep and Depression

A good night’s sleep is vital for good health and at menopause low progesterone levels impact both sleep and mood.


Do you get a good night’s sleep or is it constantly interrupted by either hot flushes or getting up to go the toilet? Numerous studies have reported on the negative effect poor sleep patterns have on our overall health and certainly being in a good mood after a disturbed night is hard to maintain.

A new study has gone further and reports that there is a link between sleep duration and depression.  This was carried rout on twins and on adolescents, but the findings hold true for all age groups. This is he the first study to document reciprocal effects for major depression and short sleep duration

“Healthy sleep is a necessity for physical, mental and emotional well-being,” said American Academy of Sleep Medicine President Dr. M. Safwan Badr. “This new research emphasizes that we can make an investment in our health by prioritizing sleep.”

So what is a normal night’s sleep? Well we all differ and you may do fine on only 5 hours but others need at least 8, and it is when this normal cycle changes that we are more likely to experience depressive symptoms.  Results suggest sleeping six hours or less per night increases the risk for major depression, which in turn increases the risk for decreased sleep in the adolescent subjects of the study.

The principal investigator of the study was Dr. Nathaniel Watson, associate professor of neurology and co-director of the University of Washington Medicine Sleep Center in Seattle, Washington. “Both short and excessively long sleep durations appear to activate genes related to depressive symptoms.”  In other words you may have a genetic predisposition to depression which can be activated by sleep deprivation.

According to Dr Watson, the study suggests that optimizing sleep may be one way to maximize the effectiveness of treatments for depression such as psychotherapy.

Progesterone and menopausal sleep problems

Speak to a menopausal woman and the lack of sleep comes up frequently as the reality is we sleep less as we get older and our hormonal balance changes. However, that doesn’t mean there is nothing we can do to improve matters and many women report that supplementing with bioidentical progesterone for their menopause symptoms such as hot flushes has had the bonus effect of improving sleep.

This is most likely because progesterone has the effect of calming the nervous system and this aids sleep. However women with a stronger risk factor depression may do better with a combined progesterone and oestrogen cream as US reports are that this can be more effective in those cases.

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