Sleep quality can predict mental health in pregnant women

Pregnant lady

Sleep disturbance are common in women, in particular during pregnancy. A European research shows that 75% of pregnant women have poor sleep and require a nap during the day.

Sleep problems are a risk factor of bad pregnancy outcomes. For instance, poor sleep is related to prolonged labor, postnatal depression, and an increased risk of cesarean delivery.

However, sleep disturbance not only influences giving birth, but also affect health-related quality of life during pregnancy, reported by a study newly published in International Journal of Nursing Studies.

Researchers recruited 164 pregnant women. Each completed two questionnaires in their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd trimester. One questionnaire was about sleep quality, sleep duration, sleep disturbances, use of sleep medication, and daytime dysfunctions. The other questionnaire was about physical and mental health.

Participants also wore a wrist actigraphy unit for 7 days each trimester to monitor their sleep. Actigraphy is a non-invasive method of monitoring human rest/activity cycles. The movements of antigraph unit are recorded and can be analyzed on computers.

Researchers found that 39% of women had a sleep efficiency < 85% by actigraphy and 24% of women showed low sleep quality. Low sleep efficiency means staying in bed but not asleep.

In the 1st trimester, more daytime sleep time and better sleep quality were associated with better physical health in pregnant women.

In the 2nd trimester, higher sleep efficiency and better sleep quality were associated with better mental health in pregnant women.

In the 3rd trimester, more nighttime sleep time and better sleep quality were associated with better mental health in pregnant women.

Longitudinally, total nighttime sleep time in the 1st trimester and sleep quality could predict mental health in the 2nd and 3rd trimester.

Researchers suggest that adequate sleep is essential for women at all pregnancy stages. Furthermore, enough sleep time and high sleep quality in an early stage is important for good mental health in later stages of pregnancy.

Citation: Tsai SY, Lee PL, Lin JW, Lee CN. (2016). Cross-sectional and longitudinal associations between sleep and health-related quality of life in pregnant women: A prospective observational study. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 56: 45-53. doi: 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2016.01.001.
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