While sleep disorders are common in both men and women with bipolar disorder, lack of sleep can make it even worse for women, according to a new study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders and reported in Futurity. As the article explains, bipolar disorder, a brain disorder that causes "unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks" includes "extreme mood swings characterized as manic (highs), depressive (lows) or mixed" (http://www.futurity.org/sleep-women-bipolar-951632/?utm_source=feedly&utm_medium=webfeeds).
In a blog called "Bipolar Laid Bare," LaRae LaBouff wrote, "Sleep is especially important for the brain. It's not as much resting as it is reorganizing and consolidating everything into its proper place...Neurons actually fire backwards during sleep. You will actually lose neurons if you do not get enough sleep...If your brain isn't given enough time to do its cleanup, there are serious negative effects. Consider the last time you were given a project but were not given adequate time to complete it. What was the quality of the result compared to what it could have been had you been allowed sufficient time? When you don't get enough sleep, that's what you're doing to your brain...The brain has a lot to do with bipolar disorder as well.. If lack of sleep in an otherwise healthy person can cause problems, it absolutely will cause problems for those of us with bipolar disorder.
Men and women experience bipolar disorders differently, possibly because of hormonal differences, the researchers said. The study, which was conducted by researchers from Penn State University College of Medicine and the University of Michigan Medical School, was funded by the Heinz C. Prechter Bipolar Research Fund, National Center for Research Resources and National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.
According to Erika Saunders, chair of the psychiatry department at Penn State College of Medicine, "Patients with bipolar disorder often suffer with sleep problems even when many of their other symptoms are well-controlled. Improving their sleep could not only better their quality of life, but also help them avoid mood episodes. Women and men sleep differently.We know from studies of the general population that women have a different type of sleep architecture than men, and they're at different risks for sleep disorders, particularly during the reproductive years."
Researchers analyzed data from 216 participants, looking at the effect of sleep quality at the beginning of the study on mood outcome over the next two years. They measured mood outcome by the severity, frequency and variability of depressive or manic symptoms. Poor sleep quality in women resulted in "increased severity and frequency of depression and increased severity and variability of mania." In men the baseline depression score and neuroticism were more likely to affect mood outcome than sleep quality.