Researchers have linked sleeping patterns to increase blood pressure late in pregnancy. According to the journal Sleep, when pregnant women get too much sleep or too little sleep in the early weeks of pregnancy, they are more likely to suffer from hypertension in the third trimester.

Study participants included healthy women interviewed at 14 weeks gestation. More than 1,200 women were interviewed in all. Researchers took into account race, age, body mass index and other factors that could affect third-trimester blood pressure readings. After accounting for all possible contributing factors, women who slept six or fewer hours a night or 10 or more hours a night measured systolic blood pressure readings about 4 mm Hg higher than women who slept on a normal schedule.

In addition to the increased risk of hypertension, women who slept fewer than five hours a night were 10 times more likely to have preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a serious medical condition that can lead to death if the pregnancy is not ended. One of the early warnings signs of preeclampsia is increased blood pressure.

Authors noted that only about 20% of women sleep normal hours during pregnancy. Normal, for this study, was defined as nine hours of sleep. Normal for a pregnant woman will depend upon her sleep cycle and previous sleeping patterns. Most women sleep between seven and eight hours a night during pregnancy.

Preventing hypertension during pregnancy is important. Authors suggest setting up a sleep schedule and creating a soothing environment in the bedroom to facilitate healthy sleep.


Source: Michelle A. Williams and colleagues. American Academy of Sleep Medicine. 4 October 2010.