Poor Sleep Can Worsen Bipolar Disorder Symptoms in Women

the Psychiatry Advisor take:

Women with bipolar disorder who have sleep problems are more likely to experience negative moods.

Erika Saunders, MD, chair of department of psychiatry at Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, Penn., and colleagues examined data from 216 men and women who took part in the Prechter Longitudinal Study of Bipolar Disorder at the University of Michigan Medical School. They looked at how quality of sleep impacted mood outcomes over a two-year period.

Women who did not sleep well tended to have depression that was more intense and frequent, as well as mania that was more severe and  variable compared to peers that did not experience sleep issues, the researchers reported in the Journal of Affective Disorders. However, in men, their baseline depression score and if they exhibited neuroticism was more likely to predict poor mood outcomes than sleep quality.

Poor sleep is a common complaint in those with bipolar disorder, and it seems to make the mood disorder worse. Prior studies have indicated that sleep problems are a symptom of depressive and manic episodes, and lack of sleep can set off a manic episode.

As to why poor sleep seems to impact women with bipolar more than men, the researchers surmised that a biological mechanism might provide an explanation.

“There is some suggestion from animal models that reproductive hormones affect the circadian rhythm system, which is a biological system that affects our need to sleep,” Saunders said in a statement. “It could be that reproductive hormones are biologically affecting sleep in women and therefore also affecting mood outcomes. Or, it could have more to do with the type of sleep that women are getting.”

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Women with bipolar who did not sleep well tended to have more severe and frequent depression, as well as more intense manic episodes.

Poor sleep is associated with negative mood in women with bipolar disorder, according to researchers at Penn State College of Medicine and University of Michigan Medical School.

Sleep problems are common in people with bipolar disorder, and poor sleep quality and bipolar disorder appear to exacerbate each other. Previous research shows that poor sleep quality is a symptom of depressive and manic episodes, and that lack of sleep can trigger mania.

The researchers analyzed data from 216 participants in the Prechter Longitudinal Study of Bipolar Disorder at the University of Michigan Medical School. They looked at the effect of sleep quality at the beginning of the study on mood outcome over the next two years. Mood outcome was measured by the severity, frequency and variability of depressive or manic symptoms.

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