Today I’m thinking about this article on Sleep deprivation and negative emotions in the Boston Globe. A new study shows that “after being deprived of just one full night�s sleep, people not only have stronger negative emotions the next day, they are much more likely to remember bad experiences than good.” Very interesting.
As a mother of a newborn that caught my eye. Ben is an especially easy baby. He is very regular in his sleep habits and generally lets me get a pretty good night sleep. But the past few nights he’s been wide awake after his 2 am feeding and it has taken a couple of hours to get him resettled. Those middle of the night sessions aren’t the worst sleep deprivation I’ve ever had; and I didn’t even connect it to my recent bad moods. But they do leave me on edge. I’ve snapped at the kids, been much more irritable with Dom. This morning all I could do was find fault, focus on what hasn’t been done, small things that most of the time I would overlook were suddenly magnified: molehills into mountains. No, I have not been a pleasant person to be around. Indeed, I’ve been focusing on the negative and forgetting all the really good stuff. Reading this article helped me to put my experience into perspective and to see why it really is important that I get to sleep at a decent time, hard though that is for us night owl types.
And I wonder if this link between sleep deprivation and negative thinking isn’t a contributing factor to post partum depression. The article concludes: “If you were living a life of four to five hours� sleep a night, you might after a while only remember the bad things that happen. If that�s not a route to depression, I don�t know what is.�� That certainly sounds like the lot of many women with newborns. I know that depression is a complex medical condition. still, I wonder if for a person prone to depression but normally able to cope, being sleep deprived (and, let’s not forget, caught up in that post-pregnancy hormonal surge) might push her over the edge.
Something to ponder as I delay going to take my shower to finish up this blog post. Yes, yes, I’m going to go to bed in just a minute….