The impact of poor sleep on pregnancy

Paul Deschamps

Sleeping can be particularly difficult during pregnancy because of the significant physical changes that occur during this time in a woman's body. Poor sleep during pregnancy has been associated with a number of detrimental effects on both the mother and the growing fetus.

Insomnia, one of the most frequent sleep disturbances during pregnancy, can be brought on by a number of things, including hormonal changes, discomfort from physical activity, and anxiety. Insomnia during pregnancy has been linked to an increased risk of postpartum depression and complications like preterm labor, gestational hypertension, and preeclampsia, according to research (1).

Another sleep disorder that can develop during pregnancy is sleep apnea. This condition causes a person to briefly stop breathing while they sleep, which can cause interrupted sleep and fatigue during the day. Sleep apnea has been associated with a higher risk of preterm birth, gestational diabetes, and hypertension in pregnant women (2).

Additionally, inadequate sleep during pregnancy can impact fetal development. According to one study, newborns with maternal sleep disturbance during pregnancy have smaller head circumferences and lower birth weights (3). Additionally, insufficient sleep has been connected to a higher risk of preterm birth and child developmental delays (4).

Fortunately, there are actions pregnant women can take to enhance the quality of their sleep. Having a regular sleep schedule, abstaining from caffeine and alcohol, and creating a peaceful environment for sleeping are all examples of good sleep hygiene. Furthermore, some women may benefit from cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia, which can assist them in establishing sound sleeping patterns and controlling sleep-related anxiety.

In conclusion, getting too little sleep during pregnancy can be extremely harmful to both the mother and the growing fetus. Pregnant women can lower their risk of complications and improve outcomes for both themselves and their unborn children by taking steps to improve their sleep quality.


1. Okun, M. L., & Kiewra, K. (2016). Sleep and pregnancy: A narrative review. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 12(08), 1149-1154. doi: 10.5664/jcsm.6048

2. Facco, F. L., Parker, C. B., Reddy, U. M., Silver, R. M., Koch, M. A., Louis, J. M., . . . Mercer, B. M. (2017). Association between sleep-disordered breathing and hypertensive disorders of pregnancy and gestational diabetes mellitus. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 129(01), 31-41. doi: 10.1097/aog.0000000000001795

3. Mindell, J. A., Cook, R. A., Nikolovski, J., & Sleep, M. M. (2015). Sleep patterns and sleep disturbances across pregnancy. Sleep Medicine, 16(04), 483-488. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2014.10.018

4. Pinto, T. M. A., Silva, L. M., Brietzke, E., & Rossignoli-Palhares, D. (2020). Maternal sleep and its association with preterm birth and neurodevelopment in children: A systematic review. Sleep & Breathing, 24(04), 1287-1299. doi: 10.1007/s11325-020-02007-6

November 1, 2023

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Disclaimer: Moona Health offers telehealth services focusing on the self-management and well-being of individuals diagnosed with insomnia. It is designed to complement, not replace, the care provided by your healthcare provider or existing insomnia treatments. Continue following your healthcare provider's guidance, including medication regimens. If you experience thoughts of self-harm or harming others, immediately contact emergency services by dialing 911 (or your local emergency number) or visit the nearest emergency department.
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