A lack of sleep is known to affect both our physical and mental health. The few studies that have investigated sleep in pregnancy have found both an increase in total sleep time and an increase in daytime sleepiness in the first trimester whereas the third trimester appears to be associated with a decrease in sleep time and an increase in the number of awakenings. Sleep has an important impact on maternal and foetal health. It has been associated with an increased duration and pain perception in labour, with a higher rate of caesarean delivery and with preterm labour. Some pregnant women develop sleep disorders such as RLS or OSA or insomnia and others develop postpartum depression. Longitudinal studies are required to fully evaluate the effect of sleep deprivation on maternal and foetal outcome.
Better methods to measure sleep disturbances in pregnancy are required along with evaluation of the underlying cause so that appropriate and effect treatment can be administered. Particular attention needs to be given to women who develop leg complaints, who are overweight or become obese during pregnancy or develop conditions such as diabetes or PIH.
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