Sarah has covered news topics for digital and print publications. She holds a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Nevada.
While sleep deprivation and parenthood is commonly linked to maternal postpartum depression, paternal postpartum depression is less understood and studied. Researchers out of Quebec recently studied paternal postpartum depression and found a link between these symptoms and sleep.
Researchers tracked the sleep of 54 fathers (44% first-time parents) for two weeks when their children reached the age of six months. Fathers used sleep monitors to record objective sleep data, such as how long they slept and how many times they woke up during the night. Participants also tracked their sleep in sleep diaries and self-evaluated their perceived sleep quality as well as their depressive symptoms.
Study data showed that fathers who self-reported poor sleep quality often also recorded multiple nighttime awakenings. First-time fathers were more likely to report depressive symptoms and poor sleep quality than fathers who already had one child.
Researchers found that the fathers’ depressive symptoms were more closely associated with their perceived sleep quality than with the objective sleep measures that the sleep monitors captured. While the fathers may have slept, how well they thought they slept was more closely linked to the development of depressive symptoms.
These “depressive symptoms may disrupt fathers’ ability to assume parental tasks, impact day-to-day father–child interactions and adversely affect family well-being,” researchers said.
The findings of this study underscore the importance of perceived sleep quality in relation to depressive symptoms. They also add to current literature on the topic of postpartum sleep issues and depression, particularly in new fathers, which is currently an underrepresented group in this domain.
Researchers suggest further research into exploring the interventions to address sleep-related postpartum mental health challenges. In anticipation of a newborn’s arrival, open dialogue about potential sleep issues may help address depressive symptoms.