Poor Sleep Quality is Associated with Preterm Births

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Study Objectives: Preterm birth (PTB) is a major public health priority and the most common adverse pregnancy outcome. Several risk factors have been identified, but a gap in the understanding of the underlying etiology of PTB persists. Poor sleep quality is a correlate of adverse health outcomes. Therefore, we evaluated whether sleep quality during pregnancy was a clinically relevant risk factor for PTB.

Design: Observational

Measurements and Results: Participants included 166 pregnant women (mean age = 28.6 +/- 5.5 years). Self-report questionnaires, including the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), were administered at 14-16, 24-26, and 30-32 weeks gestation. Logistic regression models were used to evaluate whether sleep quality was associated with preterm delivery. Poor sleep quality was a predictor of preterm birth, with the largest effects in early pregnancy (14-16 weeks) (OR: 1.25 95% Cl [1.04-1.50], P = 0.02) and more modest effects in later pregnancy (30-32 weeks) (OR: 1.18 95% Cl [0.98-1.42], P = 0.07). With every one-point increase on the PSQI, the odds of preterm birth increase 25% in early pregnancy and 18% in later pregnancy.

Conclusions: Poor sleep quality, in both early and late pregnancy, is associated with an increased risk of delivering preterm. Currently the specific pathway(s) through which disturbed sleep contributes to PTB are unknown. We suggest that poor sleep may contribute to increased risk for PTB both independently, as well as in conjunction with other established risk factors, such as stress.


This article was originally published in Sleep, volume 34, in 2011. DOI: 10.5665/sleep.1384


American Academy of Sleep Medicine