Sleep Duration Is Associated with Levels of Inflammatory Markers In Women

- July 1, 2009 —

Science Daily/American Academy of Sleep Medicine

A study in the journal Sleep demonstrates that levels of inflammatory markers varied significantly with self-reported sleep duration in women but not men.


The study found that both interleukin-6 (IL-6) and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) levels varied with sleep duration in women following multiple adjustments for a number of confounding factors.


Compared with women who reported sleeping seven hours on an average weekday, IL-6 levels were significantly lower in women who reported sleeping eight hours. Levels of hs-CRP were significantly higher in women who reported sleeping 5 hours or less. In contrast, adjusted results show no significant variations in inflammatory markers with sleep duration in men.


Results indicate that two months after delivery, poor sleep was associated with depression when adjusted for other significant risk factors, such as poor partner relationship, previous depression, depression during pregnancy and stressful life events. Sleep disturbances and subjective sleep quality were the aspects of sleep most strongly associated with depression. Overall, nearly 60 percent of the postpartum women experienced poor global sleep quality, and 16.5 percent had depressive symptoms.


Depression, previous sleep problems, being a first time mother, not exclusively breastfeeding or having a younger or male infant were factors associated with poor postpartum sleep quality. Better maternal sleep was associated with the baby sleeping in a different room.


According to authors, the first three months after delivery are characterized by continually changing sleep parameters. Women who are tired during this period may attribute this to poor sleep, but the tiredness could alternatively be caused by depression; thus talking about sleep problems may provide an entry point for also discussing the woman's overall well-being.


Individual women may react differently to shorter sleep duration and lower sleep efficiency during the postpartum period, and that the sleep of women with a history of depression may be more sensitive to the psychobiological (hormonal, immunological, psychological and social) changes associated with childbirth.

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