Researchers have found a potential link between sleep habits during pregnancy and increased risk of preterm delivery. According to the study published in Sleep, women who have trouble sleeping early in pregnancy and late in pregnancy are more likely to give birth early. The increased risk of early delivery was steady even when other health factors that could affect preterm delivery were taken into consideration.

Sleep is associated with overall health. People who sleep better tend to have fewer bouts of sickness and live healthier lives. This study investigated a possible link between sleep patterns and sleep quality and early delivery. Researchers at the University of Pittsburg School of Medicine gathered data from pregnant women on sleep quality in the first, second and third trimesters. When women reported poor sleep quality or sleep disturbances in the first and third trimesters, they were more likely to give birth before full term. Women who reported poor sleep quality in the second trimester were no more likely to give birth early than women who reported no sleep problems.

Researchers believe that fewer sleep problems in the second semester may be associated with changes in pregnancy hormones, but there is no definitive research data to back up this theory.

There may also be a connection between sleep problems, stress inflammation and preterm birth. Poor sleep may result in increased inflammation. Stress also attributes to increased inflammation. This could mean there is a connection between inflammation and preterm birth.

Preterm delivery is associated with developmental delays and increased risk of death. Despite being an advanced nation, a large number of preterm deliveries are still reported each year. Researchers and doctors plan on further study of the link between sleep and increased risk of preterm delivery.

Doctors are advised to take sleep problems early and late in pregnancy into consideration. Forming regular sleeping habits, reducing caffeine intake late in the day and sleeping in a dark room can improve sleep quality.

Source: Michele L. Okun, Christine Dunkel Schetter, Laura M. Glynn. Sleep. Volume 34, Issue 11.