Insomnia in last trimester of pregnancy affects 2 in 3 women: study

30 January 2018 - 13:05 By AFP Relaxnews
New European research has revealed that 64% of pregnant women suffer from insomnia in their third trimester of pregnancy, which can affect quality of life and increase the risk of developing other health problems.
New European research has revealed that 64% of pregnant women suffer from insomnia in their third trimester of pregnancy, which can affect quality of life and increase the risk of developing other health problems.
Image: fotostorm/IStock.com

New European research has revealed that 64% of pregnant women suffer from insomnia in their third trimester of pregnancy, which could increase their risk of developing health conditions such as gestational diabetes.

Led by researchers from the University of Granada, Spain, along with researchers from the Andalusian Health Service (SAS) and the University of Jaen, the study looked at 486 healthy pregnant Spanish women and monitored the effects of pregnancy through all three trimesters.

They found that the number of women suffering from insomnia prior to pregnancy was just 6%, however in the first trimester of pregnancy 44% of pregnant women were suffering from the condition, with this figure increasing to 46% in the second trimester.

By the third trimester 2 in 3 women, or 64%, were suffering from insomnia.

Changes to sleep included how long it took the women to fall asleep, how many times women woke in the night, how long they stayed awake for before falling back to sleep, and changes to total sleep duration - symptoms which also affect daytime sleepiness. 

The researchers described the numbers as "very high," commenting that the study shows the need for a "systematic approach to this problem."

Study co-author Dr. María del Carmen Amezcua Prieto also added that, "Although it is well known that pre-existing sleep problems worsen and new issues frequently arise during pregnancy, there is a tendency to assume that difficulties related to getting to sleep and maintaining restorative sleep are characteristic phenomena of pregnancy and that they must be endured."

The researchers now stress the importance of taking action to tackle the problem, especially as insomnia can cause a wide variety of health problems, increasing the risk of high blood pressure, pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, depression, premature birth, and unplanned caesarean sections. 

One potential treatment could be exercise, with the team finding that regularly partaking in moderate to intense physical activity during pregnancy could protect women against pregnancy-related insomnia, adding that "this is yet another reason for promoting physical activity during pregnancy."

Prof. Aurora Bueno Cavanillas also added that detecting insomnia before pregnancy can help to prevent the problem during pregnancy.

The study also revealed that other factors, such as obesity and whether or not the women have already had children, can have an impact on sleeping patterns.

 The results can be found published online in the European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology.

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