(NaturalNews) Pregnant women have always been advised to get sufficient good quality sleep. Sleep is not only important for the well-being of the mother-to-be, it is also important for the development of the fetus in her tummy.
While this knowledge is very much common wisdom, unfortunately, not all pregnant ladies get their fair share of good quality sleep. For some, sleep is disrupted by the discomforts of being heavily pregnant, which is common in the 3rd pregnancy trimester. For others, sleep could be affected by work stress, common in mothers who are rushing to finish up projects prior to their delivery. Whichever the case, research is pointing to the importance of doing something about poor sleep quality and quantity during pregnancy.
Poor quality sleep and weight of offspring in adulthood
A May 2014 study in the journal Diabetes reported that pregnant mice subjected to poor quality sleep during the last trimester of pregnancy gave birth to mice that weighed more on average and had more metabolic abnormalities, as compared to those born to pregnant mice with uninterrupted sleep.
In the study, pregnant mice from the interrupted sleep group had a motorized brush sweeping through their cages every two minutes during their sleep from days 15 to 19 of their pregnancy (the mouse-equivalent of the 3rd trimester). The pregnant mice would be woken up briefly, but allowed to return to sleep. The pregnant mice in the uninterrupted sleep group were undisturbed.
Results revealed that offspring of both groups weighed the same at birth, and had the same (and normal) feeding habits and growth patterns in the initial periods. However, as these offspring entered the mouse equivalent of middle-age, those from the interrupted sleep group started to gain about 10% more weight than their counterparts than in the uninterrupted sleep group. A few interrupted sleep offspring became so obese they did not survive.
In addition to greater middle-age weight-gain, offspring of the interrupted sleep group also had less effective insulin and poorer glucose tolerance (a sign of type-2-diabetes), higher amounts of "bad-fats", as well as higher levels of "bad-cholesterol". The researchers linked the poorer health outcomes in the interrupted sleep offspring to reductions in gene expression for adiponectin, a hormone that reduces cholesterol, increases sensitivity to insulin and protects the heart.
Poor quality sleep and preterm delivery
Besides the above findings, a study published in 2011 in the journal Sleep also found an increased risk of premature birth in pregnant ladies experiencing sleep disruptions during their 1st and 3rd trimester.
In a 2013 article in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, scientists from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine explained that sleep disturbances could heighten inflammation responses in the body and bring about production of excessive cytokines. The excess cytokines could disrupt spinal arteries leading to the placenta, as such triggering preterm birth. Indeed, previous postpartum studies have found higher concentrations of inflammatory cytokine in women who experienced premature delivery.
Other effects of poor sleep on pregnancy
Other than heavier and unhealthier offspring (when they reach adulthood), as well as increased risk of preterm birth, poor sleep during pregnancy can also lead to other problems such as poorer immunity and high blood pressure in the mother, which could in turn endanger the lives of both the mother and child.
About the author: Cindy L. has a keen interest in natural healing. She was previously trained in Psychology and is currently receiving training in Traditional Chinese Medicine. She has written on depression (at HolisticDepressionHelp.com) as well as other ailments (at Insights On Health.com).
Her belief in holistic living extends beyond health - her passion for green living can be seen in her website at All Recycling Facts.com.