Sleep is key to good mental health for seniors

By Dennis Mann, Healthday Reporter

(health day)

9, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Older women who don’t stick to a set sleep-wake schedule may be more likely to suffer from feelings of depression and anxiety — even if they get a normal amount of zzzs.

Furthermore, a postmenopausal woman who goes to bed early and wakes up very early (“early bird”) or goes to bed late and wakes later (“night owl”) is 70% more likely to have major depressive symptoms—even with pot. normal sleep, a new study suggests.

The study wasn’t designed to say whether sleep is the chicken, the egg, or both when it comes to mood. “It could definitely be the case that the women in our study with depressive symptoms had a different type of sleep schedule because they were depressed, or that their depression was causing them to have irregular sleep-wake patterns,” the study’s researchers said. author Leslie Swanson. She is an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Swanson said more research is needed to find out the cause and effect between sleep and mood, especially in postmenopausal women. She suggested that “women may be more prone to irregular sleep patterns as they age due to factors such as retirement from work or aging of the parts of the brain that control the timing of sleep.”

“Even small changes in the timing of sleep, such as those caused by daylight saving time changes, can disrupt our circadian rhythms, which in turn can negatively affect factors that cause depression, anxiety, and decreased well-being,” Swanson said. Our circadian rhythm is the 24-hour internal clock that controls the release of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin.

For the study, researchers analyzed the sleep patterns and assessed the mental health of nearly 1,200 postmenopausal women who were 65 years old, on average.

Women with a sleep midpoint — the midway point in the hour between falling asleep and waking up — that fell outside the hours of 2 and 4 a.m. were 72% more likely to report significant depressive symptoms. The midpoints of sleep determine whether you are a morning lark or a night owl. If the midpoint of your sleep is 3:30 a.m. or earlier, you’re probably a lark, and if it’s 5:30 a.m. or later, you’re probably an owl.

The study authors noted that for every hour of irregular sleep schedules, a woman’s chances of experiencing major depressive symptoms increased by 68% and major symptoms of anxiety by 62%.

The researchers found that sleep was more irregular among black women than among white, Chinese and Japanese women.

Getting regular, high-quality sleep is essential to physical and mental health, Swanson said.

I advised setting an alarm clock at the same time every morning, seven days a week, even after retirement to ensure that you get up at the same time every day and get into the bright light as quickly as possible after the alarm goes off.

Exposure to bright light, Swanson explained, sends a strong signal to your circadian clock about when you want to be awake and asleep.

Take time to relax before bed. “We weren’t built to go from 60 mph to 0 mph when it comes to the transition to sleep,” she said. “Create a buffer zone — free from work, social interaction, and anything stimulating, including action/horror movies or books, Twitter, social media, etc. — starting 30 to 60 minutes before bed.”

Also, try not to eat a large meal three hours before bed. “Digestion competes with sleep, and digestion wins almost every time,” she said. “Avoid sugary foods a few hours before bed because insulin and high cortisol can disrupt sleep.”

Sleep affects your mental and physical health, agreed Dr. Rajkumar Dasgupta. He’s an assistant professor of clinical medicine at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California.

“Previous studies on sleep irregularity have found that not sticking to a regular sleep-wake schedule and getting different amounts of sleep each night can put a person at risk for medical problems, such as obesity, high cholesterol and high blood pressure,” he said.

The take-home message from this and other previous studies shows that not having a regular bedtime and wake-up schedule can have profound health effects, such as an increased risk of depression and metabolic problems. [such as obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes]Dasgupta said.

For people with sleep or mood issues, suggest practicing meditation and mindfulness before bed.

“Stress can be a major hindrance to getting a refreshing sleep. Being mindful and practicing meditation may help you sleep better, improving the quantity and quality of sleep,” Dasgupta added.

She said sleep problems are common in menopause and may continue into the postmenopausal years Dr. Stephanie FaubionHe’s the medical director of the North American Menopause Society and director of the Center for Women’s Health at Mayo Clinic. “A good percentage of women in their 60s and 70s still experience hot flashes and night sweats,” she said. Drenching night sweats can disrupt sleep.

“Everything we can do to make sure we sleep well is important,” she said. In addition to practicing good sleep habits, older women should take steps to boost their mental health, including engaging in things they enjoy and maintaining strong social bonds.”

She added that seeing your doctor if you experience significant mood or sleep changes as you age.

SOURCES: Leslie Swanson, Ph.D., assistant professor, psychiatry, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan; Stephanie Faubion, MD, medical director of the North American Menopause Society, and director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Women’s Health, Rochester, Minnesota; Rajkumar Dasgupta, MD, Assistant Professor, Clinical Medicine, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles; sleep healthDecember 9, 2022, online

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