The last thing you want to think about when you learn you’re pregnant is whether you might end up with postpartum depression. Unless you’ve experienced depression before in pregnancy or postpartum, chances are you’ll be tempted to avoid the topic. Don’t worry – thinking about it won’t cause it! Quite the contrary - as with many other situations you want to prevent, just a tiny amount of planning can greatly reduce the likelihood (and severity) of problems.
Just a few years ago an interesting fact about the eyes was discovered. It had been known for many years that exposing the eyes to light suppresses the very important sleep hormone, melatonin. The new discovery was that it’s principally the blue rays in ordinary white light that causes the melatonin suppression. By wearing glasses that block blue light or by using light bulbs that don’t produce blue light, the suppression of melatonin can be avoided.
Depression can occur in pregnancy, and many have found these glasses help alleviate it. When the baby arrives, moms are quite vulnerable to postpartum depression if they have chronic sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation can cause postpartum depression. It’s one of the most under-recognized factor contributing to this illness.
When you get up at night and turn on a light in order to take care of your baby, you also suppress your production of melatonin. Then, when you try to go back to bed and grab more sleep, you may find you can’t. About the time you’re finally able to fall asleep, your baby cries and you again turn on a light. Once more, this cuts off your supply of melatonin. In addition to being a frustrating cycle, this results in upsetting your internal clock.
The next night, even though you’re even more tired, you may find you can’t sleep. Your melatonin flow did not start at the normal time because your internal clock has been reset by the light exposure during the previous night. If this continues for a number of nights, your body doesn’t know what time of day or night it is. You produce less and less melatonin, you sleep very little and soon may fall into a postpartum depression.