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Inadequate sleep in late pregnancy may influence labor and delivery

A study by researchers at the UCSF School of Nursing has found that women who have less sleep or severely disrupted sleep in late pregnancy are significantly more likely to have longer labors and are more likely to have cesarean births.

Controlling for birth weight of the newborn, the researchers found that women who averaged less than six hours of sleep per night had significantly longer labors and were 4.5 times more likely to have cesarean deliveries than women who averaged seven or more hours of sleep. Women who averaged between six and seven hours of sleep per night were 3.7 times more likely to have a cesarean delivery. The study appears in the December issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

"It is well known that sleep disturbance and fatigue are associated with adverse physical and psychological outcomes, but this is the first study of its kind to associate sleep disturbance in pregnant women with adverse perinatal outcomes," said lead author Kathryn Lee, RN, PhD, FAAN, professor and the James and Marjorie Livingston Chair in the UCSF School of Nursing.

According to Lee, women often complain to healthcare providers about sleep problems during pregnancy, yet little is known about how sleep affects the lives of childbearing women. It is generally accepted that seven to eight hours of sleep per night is the average needed for healthy adults, while six hours of sleep or less per night is considered severe sleep restriction, she said.

The study assessed sleep of 131 women in their ninth month of pregnancy. Study findings showed that women who slept less than six hours per night had an average labor of 29 hours compared to 17.7 hours for women who received seven or more hours of sleep per night.

"We also learned that women who averaged less than six hours of sleep per night also went to bed later and spent less time in bed, thereby limiting their opportunity for sleep," said Lee. "Women who suffer
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Contact: Carol Hyman
chyman@pubaff.ucsf.edu
415-476-2557
University of California - San Francisco
15-Dec-2004


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