Study objectives: We sought to elucidate the interaction between sleep and mood considering menstrual cycle phase (menses and non-menses portions of the cycle) in 72 healthy young women (18-33 years) with natural, regular menstrual cycles and without menstrual-associated disorders. This work fills a gap in literature of examining mood in context of sleep and menstrual cycle jointly, rather than individually.
Methods: Daily subjective measures of sleep and mood, and date of menses were remotely, digitally collected over a 2-month period. Each morning, participants rated their sleep on the previous night, and each evening participants rated the extent of positive and negative mood for that day. Objective sleep was tracked with a wearable (ŌURA ring) during month 2 of the study. Time-lag cross-correlation and mixed linear models were used to analyze the significance and directionality of the sleep-mood relationship, and how the interaction between menstrual cycle status and sleep impacted mood levels.
Results: We found that menstrual status alone did not impact mood. However, subjective sleep quality and menstrual status interacted to impact positive mood (p < .05). After a night of perceived poor sleep quality, participants reported lower positive mood during menses compared to non-menses portions of the cycle, while after a night of perceived good sleep quality participants reported equivalent levels of positive mood across the cycle.
Conclusions: We suggest that the perception of good sleep quality acts as a mood equalizer, with good sleep providing a protective buffer to positive mood across the menstrual cycle.
Keywords: actigraphy; basic science; home testing; menstrual cycle; mental health; subjective sleep quality; women’s health.
© The Author(s) 2023. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Sleep Research Society.