Poor sleep is associated with negative mood in women with bipolar disorder, according to researchers.
Bipolar disorder is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. The condition is marked by extreme mood episodes characterized as manic (highs), depressive (lows) or mixed.
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.
“Patients with bipolar disorder often suffer with sleep problems even when many of their other symptoms are well-controlled,” said Dr. Erika Saunders, chair, department of psychiatry at Penn State College of Medicine. “Improving their sleep could not only better their quality of life, but also help them avoid mood episodes.”
Finding the best treatments for sleep disorders in people with bipolar disorder meant investigating differences between women and men with the condition.
“Women and men sleep differently,” Saunders explained. “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.”
Women and men also experience bipolar disorder differently. Women often have more persistent and more depressive symptoms, as well as a number of other coexisting conditions such as anxiety, eating disorders and migraine headaches. Men tend to have shorter episodes and more time in between episodes.
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