Study reveals 64% of women experience insomnia in the third trimester of pregnancy

A new study conducted by the Andalusian Health Service (SAS) at the University of Granada and researchers from the University of Jaen found that 64% of pregnant women experience insomnia during their third trimester of pregnancy.

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The study published in the European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, revealed that this feature is ten times greater than that for women who suffer insomnia during early stages of pregnancy (6%).

The study enrolled 486 healthy pregnant women from Jaen, Granada, Seville and Huelva, who had undergone the Andalusian Health Service (SAS) prior to the first trimester (14th week) of pregnancy. These women were observed for all three trimesters to obtain the results of pregnancy.

The study outcomes found that about 44% of pregnant women undergo insomnia during their first trimester of pregnancy, following the increase of 46% in the second trimester and 64% in the third trimester. According to the investigators, these figures are very high which necessitate the need for a systematic approach.

Although it is well known that pre-existing sleep problems worsen and new issues frequently arise during pregnancy, there is a tendency to assume that difficulties related to getting to sleep and maintaining restorative sleep are characteristic phenomena of pregnancy and that they must be endured.

However, this probably occurs because the health system does not give importance to the issue during the monitoring of pregnancies, to the point where the World Health Organization (WHO) does not even address the issue of sleep in its guidelines on providing care to pregnant women."

Dr. María del Carmen Amezcua Prieto, the University of Granada

There are several problems are related to insomnia, which alter the quality of life of pregnant women who suffer from hypertension, depression, gestational diabetes, premature birth, toxemia, and sudden caesarean sections. Therefore, the problems must be addressed in a systematic method.

Dr.María del Rosario Román Gálvez, a co-author of the current study, cautioned that in order to study insomnia efficiently, every aspect of night-time sleep and its outcome during daytime must be considered.

The study findings demonstrate the significant changes in sleep fragmentation (the number of times women wake up during sleep and how much time they stay sleepless), as well as drowsiness during the daytime. It also shows that the intensity and frequency of sleep fragmentation increases as pregnancy progresses.

Additionally, pregnancy also effects sleep duration and sleep induction (the time taken for an individual to fall asleep). These conditions are taken into account when addressing the problem with the use of non- pharmacological treatments.

Prof. Aurora Bueno Cavanillas, co-author of the study, highlights that pre-gestational insomnia is the most important factor related to insomnia for the detection of insomnia prior and throughout all the stages of pregnancy. The other factors that have an impact on sleep patterns include obesity and whether the women already had children or not.

Finally, the research demonstrates that during pregnancy the routine practice of intense or steady physical exercise is a good line of defense against pregnancy-related insomnia.

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