Updated 28 September 2015

Poor sleep ups postpartum depression

Poor sleep after childbirth appears to increase the risk of postpartum depression.


Poor sleep after childbirth appears to increase the risk of postpartum depression, according to findings published in the journal Sleep.

"Postpartum women sleep less during the early weeks following delivery than during pregnancy and other periods of reproductive age," Dr Signe Karen Dorheim, of Stavanger University Hospital, and colleagues write in their report. "At the same time, these women have an increased risk of depression."

Dr Dorheim's group studied 2,830 women who delivered at Stavanger University Hospital between October 2005 and September 2006. The women reported that they slept an average of 6.5 hours per night. After adjusting the data for other significant depression risk factors - including previous sleep problems, being a first-time mother, not exclusively breastfeeding, having a young infant or having a male infant, and stressful life events - poor sleep was still associated with depression.

"Tiredness after delivery may be attributed to lack of sleep, but the reduced daytime energy could also be caused by depression," Dorheim told Reuters Health.

"Women with postpartum depression may also benefit from treatment of sleep problems," she added.

"Having a newborn baby affects the sleep of the whole family," Dorheim added. "However, when a mother is depressed or complaining of excessive daytime tiredness, it may be important for the partner or other close family to offer support with baby care at night time, to allow the mother a night of recovery sleep," she noted. - Reuters

(July 2009)


Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Ask the Expert

Depression expert

Michael Simpson has been a senior psychiatric academic, researcher, and Professor in several countries, having worked at London University in the UK; McMaster University in Canada; Temple University in Philadelphia, USA.; and the University of Natal in South Africa.

Still have a question?

Get free advice from our panel of experts

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

* You must accept our condition

Forum Rules