A pathway to a healthier you

Menopause, disturbed sleep and or depression

Tina had been depressed for a number of years. 

My depression did worsen when I became a midwife, I think because of poor sleep and stress. I wanted to address it, but I found talking about it difficult. I think I felt some shame about my mental health problems

Depression and sleep are closely linked. People with depression tend to have sleeping difficulties, and having sleeping problems can cause depression. 

Compared to the general population who have a depression rate of 10%, the prevalence of depression in nurses and midwives is more than double that, with 24% of midwives and 22% of nurses experiencing this debilitating mental health condition. 

Tina thought that her poor sleep was caused by the onset of menopause. She was experiencing sudden hot flushes, mood changes, restless legs and insomnia. 

Menopausal symptoms can vary from woman to woman. Sleep disorders are common, affecting 39% to 47% of perimenopausal women and 35% to 60% of postmenopausal women.

She talked to her GP about her options – ERT, HRT, melatonin, low-dose antidepressants and more. Tina decided to try adjusting her sleeping routine before opting other treatments. She came up with a bedtime schedule, cut out coffee after lunch, ate healthier foods, fitted in more exercise and tried yoga and guided meditations to reduce stress. All of this helped her to sleep, which in turn improved her depression. Tina  started to see the strong connection between sleep and mental health. 

I wanted to learn more about sleep to see if it helped my mental health. I read about light exposure and how it can improve sleep and wellbeing, so I started getting outside more during the day when I could

The Sleep Foundation Australia suggests that outside light exposure, particularly in the morning, can help with depression. Monash University research found that the risk of depression was decreased by 20% for people who were exposed to high amounts of daytime light. 

For those exposed to high amounts of light at night, depression risk was increased by 30%.  “Once people understand that their light exposure patterns have a powerful influence on their mental health, they can take some simple steps to optimize their wellbeing. It’s about getting bright light in the day and darkness at night.”- Sean Cain, co-author, Monash University study Exposure to light at night found to increase risk of depression by 30% (newatlas.com)

After a few months of treatment, Tina’s sleep improved, and her depression reduced. She was much less tired and felt better able to cope with life’s stresses. “My sleep isn’t perfect, but it’s a lot better. I want to keep working on my mental health, as I have hope now, after seeing how it can improve with the right support and treatment!”

Depression is a complex health issue that requires personalised support. If you suffer from depression and need help, call us on 1800 001 060 to speak to one of our experienced clinicians.