Sleep Deprivation Worsens Postpartum Depression

I don't know. I think I'd put this in the category of "Did they really need to spend money on research to figure this out??" I suppose I shouldn't be a pain in the butt about it, but it feels obvious. Anyway, ignore me and read on:

"A study published in the current issue of the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing shows that depression symptoms worsen in PPD patients when their quality of sleep declines.

Sleep deprivation can hamper a mother's ability to care for her infant, as judgment and concentration decline. Sleep-deprived mothers also may inadvertently compromise their infants' sleep quality because infants often adopt their mothers' circadian sleep rhythms.

All new mothers experience some sleep loss following childbirth, as their estrogen and progesterone hormone levels plunge. They typically spend 20 percent more of the day awake than average during the first six weeks postpartum. Postpartum women wake more frequently and have less dream sleep than non-postpartum women, with women in their first month postpartum spending only 81 percent of their time in bed actually sleeping. Neurotransmitters that influence sleep quality also affect mood, raising sleep-deprived mothers' risk for depression …

Study author Bobbie Posmontier of Drexel University compared sleep patterns of 46 postpartum women, half with symptoms of PPD and half without. Sleep patterns were monitored for seven consecutive days. Results showed that mothers suffering from PPD took longer to fall asleep and slept for shorter periods. The worse their sleep quality, the worse their depression.

Posmontier recommends clinicians treating women for PPD to address the importance of adequate sleep. 'Mothers can develop a plan to have other family members help care for the baby at night,' she said. 'They also should practice good sleep hygiene. That includes going to bed at the same time every night, avoiding naps and steering clear of caffeine, exercise, nicotine and alcohol within four hours of bedtime.'"

I completely agree with the issue of sleep management for any new mom, but especially those moms who have a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder. My husband and I had a plan: I stayed up with the baby two nights in a row, and he stayed up with the baby the next two nights while I slept in a room without the monitor. And yes, he had a job to go to in the morning. But he sacrificed so that our whole family could be healthy as soon as possible. Let me tell you, a full night's sleep does a lot for your ability to cope. Husbands out there: You can balk now if you want to, and not stay up to help with the baby. But if you do, you may pay for it later with a completelyincapacitated wife. Remember, thevow reads"in sickness and in health."

About Katherine Stone

is the founder of Postpartum Progress. She has been named a WebMD Health Hero, one of the fiercest women in America by More magazine, and one of the top 20 Social Media Moms by Working Mother magazine. She is a survivor of postpartum OCD.

Tell Us What You Think


  1. How could a father help with a baby who will not sleep in a crib and won't take a bottle, though? My 8 month old wakes hourly and nurses (for comfort more than food) back to sleep.

  2. need no research to know that, my PPD was finally brought upon by sleep depression at 8 months PP. My 8 month old at that time was a horrible sleeper but it was not her fault, it was my own lack of knowledge where i didn't know that babies don't know how to self sooth and I had to teach her and in order to comfort her I was reinforcing, all her sleep attachments. I finally after trying all no cry solutions gave in to letting her cry after her usual bed time routine. It was tough, toughest thing i did as a mother in addition to going through PPD but I wont do it any other way if given the chance. She used to wake up every hour after being in bed she was co-sleeping, I finally at 8 months put her in her room, hugs an kisses and all and let her cry b/c i was getting so frustrated with everything and didn't want to harm her. I had a mental limit of one hr where I wanted to go in and sooth her some briefly and put her back down, I had burned all my bridges by trying every other method out there and nothing worked so I knew i had to stick to it. She never cried more than 40-50 min and in 3 weeks it went down to no crying and STTN. Today she is a happy 3 year old who wants to go to her big girl bed when its time for bed and stays in it all night. My 5 month old is being put down in his own crib starting next month and I will do it earlier with him so i don't have to face so much crying and instill bad sleep habits in him and he learns to fall asleep himself, he is much better than my daughter even at 4 months b/c i mentally tried to let him fuss a little here and there before lunging to pick him up at every whimper, he is able to play 1 hr on his own in his crib if he is up, my daughter could never do that at 4 months…which led to more and more dependence on me for each waking cycle and me having to rock and breastfeed her every 1 hr. My whole day was a fog and heavy day where I just wanted to run away from the feeling of i can never sleep or rest and do anything and cant even sooth my own child.
    I firmly believe sleep deprivation pushed me into PPD more than anything else b/c i lost my ability to function because of being tired and croggy all the time.

  3. Knowing this would be a great issue for me after having my second child my husband agreed to do ALL night time care for the baby. Even with that I literally didn't sleep for over 2 weeks after the baby was born. I was feeling very delusional at one point. Sleep is assential!! That I know for sure!!

  4. I'm glad that your husband is willing to help by sacrificing his sleep time for you and the baby. There are just far too many men that don't know how to help out. Kind of selfish if you ask me.

  5. My 8.5 month old wakes up on average every 30 minutes and due to my inabilty to teach him to sleep on his own i have to get by on as little as 2 hours's sleep everyday. I am depressed and fed up and plain lost. My husbnad is so cool about the whole thing and occasioanlly hints to this being my fault. He says the baby will not stop crying if he holds him and so my two sons are agonizingly attached to me alone.I feel like a zombie and just do my duties like a clockwork machine that is all.

  6. I am so tired and feel so alone in caring for my baby at night. My toddler prevents me from sleeping during the day. It is horrible.


  1. […] quit. I would be everything that he needed. And I tried. I tried to the point of being clinically sleep deprived, on medication for anxiety and depression, and under the care of a therapist that specialized in […]

  2. […] It disrupts basic biological functioning and makes you crazy and paranoid. It contributes to and worsens postpartum depression.  Sleep is essential to sanity, so when your baby sleeps, SLEEP. Don’t do laundry. Don’t make […]

  3. […] Which helps babies grow, and learn, and improves their mood. And which helps mothers to avoid post-partum depression, a thing that does seem to strain the parent-child […]

  4. […] place. It wasn’t until I sought help (and Zoloft – sweet, sweet Zoloft) that I got my postpartum depression under control. That and the fact that Brett took over the night-time shift almost […]

  5. […] Sleep deprivation is one of the most common post-birth side effects as well as one of the most damaging. While you may think it’s alright to neglect your sleep, even a small period of sleep loss can have long lasting effects. […]

  6. […] Her speculation is not just a musing; it is scientifically backed. Studies show “mothers suffering from PPD took longer to fall asleep and slept for shorter periods. The worse their sleep quality, the worse their depression” (1). […]

  7. […] troubles for Mom directly impact Baby. Katherine Stone, founder of Postpartum Progress, notes “Sleep-deprived mothers also may inadvertently compromise their infants’ sleep quality because infants often adopt […]