Prolonged Prenatal maternal sleep decreases episodes of postpartum depression: Study
First time mothers with longer sleep time during pregnancy are less likely to report high levels of anxiety and depression in the postpartum period, suggests a study published in the Journal of Sleep Research.
Postpartum emotional distress is very common, with 10%-20% of postpartum women reporting depressive or anxiety disorders. Sleep is a modifiable risk factor for emotional distress that has a pivotal role in postpartum adjustment.
A group of researchers from Israel conducted a study aimed to examine whether sleep duration and quality during pregnancy predict trajectories of emotional distress in the postpartum period.
Participants were 215 women that were assessed from the third trimester of pregnancy to 18-months postpartum. At all five time points (third trimester, 3-, 6-, 12-, and 18-months postpartum), measures of sleep duration and quality (measured by wake time after sleep onset; WASO) were derived from both actigraphy and diary-based measures. Repeated measures of depression and anxiety symptoms were collected using self-report measures.
The results of the study are as follows:
· Four bivariate postpartum depression and anxiety growth trajectories, including (a) high comorbidity (5.4%); (b) moderate comorbidity (19.4%); (c) low anxiety and decreasing depression symptomology (18.6%); and (d) low symptomology (56.6%).
· Multinomial logistic regression analyses showed that mothers with shorter sleep durations during pregnancy were more likely to belong to the high comorbidity or moderate symptoms classes compared to the low symptomology class.
· In addition, mothers with higher WASO (i.e. lower sleep quality) at 3-months postpartum were more likely to belong to the moderate class compared to the low symptomology class.
· Higher diary-based wake after sleep onset (ie. lower sleep quality) at 3 months post-partum predicted more moderate anxiety and depression symptoms compared to low symptomology.
Thus, the researchers concluded that prenatal mothers with extended sleep time during pregnancy were not associated with high levels of anxiety and depression in the postpartum period. So, given the potential negative implications of disrupted sleep in the perinatal period, the present study may inform future intervention studies that target sleep problems during pregnancy.
Prenatal maternal sleep and trajectories of postpartum depression and anxiety symptoms by Sela N et. al published in the Journal of Sleep Research.