Sleep apnea, insomnia and other sleep disorders have huge effects on pregnant women. Researchers from UC San Francisco found that they are at higher risk of giving birth before reaching full term.

Preterm birth means delivery before 37 weeks’ gestation. The study found that almost 15% of pregnant ladies diagnosed with a sleep disorder during pregnancy delivered a baby earlier. Moreover, the risks of preterm birth were double for women with two specific sleep disorders: insomnia and sleep apnea. Besides, preterm births pose risks of complications, which makes this study even more important, researchers said.

The Study

It is fine to have sleep changes during pregnancy but major disruptions are likely to cause impairment. The prevalence of sleeping disorders is often left unnoticed because pregnant women are not diagnosed. If you treat sleeping disorders during pregnancy, you can reduce risks of preterm rate, which is around 10% in the US (more than in other developed countries).

The study examines the side effects of insomnia on pregnant women. Researchers analyzed a big group of ladies to find links between sleep disorders and different types of preterm birth. For example, they tried to find the connection between spontaneous preterm labor, early deliveries, late preterm birth and insomnia.

In the study, researchers used a case-control design in order to separate the side effects of poor sleep from other risk factors that can cause preterm birth. 2,265 women with a sleep disorder were matched with women who didn’t have such condition but had other risk factors for preterm birth, such as smoking during pregnancy or a previous preterm birth.

This was necessary to make sure that the findings of early delivery in pregnant women with a sleep disorder were attributable to the disorder and not to other conditions and risk factors. Researchers also note that only a few women were diagnosed with a sleep disorder, others didn’t even know about their conditions.

They say that two ladies diagnosed with a sleep disorder had severe side effects of this condition and that’s why they were diagnosed. Therefore, they say that women should be screened for these disorders during pregnancy to reduce their side effects.

The Results

There is a cognitive behavioral therapy that can treat most sleep disorders and it doesn’t require any medications, so it’s suitable for pregnant women. To find out whether this therapy is working for ladies with insomnia, and whether they reduce risks of preterm delivery, researchers are preparing another study.

As they say, the exciting part of this study is that sleep disorders can be treated when diagnosed early and researchers say they hope to help many pregnant women reach their full term. And since good night sleep is important after giving birth, these findings will help many new moms as well.