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Lack of Sleep During Pregnancy Ups Risk of High Blood Pressure
Date:10/1/2010

cteristics, as well as sleeping habits, in an initial interview done around 14 weeks' gestation. Blood pressure was measured periodically throughout pregnancy.

Sleep duration didn't appear to have an effect on blood pressure levels in the first and second trimesters of pregnancy. However, during the third trimester, women who slept less than six hours a night had an average systolic (that's the top number in a blood pressure reading) blood pressure that was 3.72 mm/Hg higher than women who slept nine hours. Even women who slept seven to eight hours a night had systolic blood pressure readings that were 2.43 mm/Hg higher than women who slept nine hours.

The study also found that systolic blood pressure was 4.21 mm/Hg higher in women who slept more than 10 hours each night.

To better assess what such differences in blood pressure might mean to pregnant women, the researchers also looked at the effect of sleep time on the risk of developing preeclampsia, which can have significant health consequences for both the mother and the baby.

The researchers found that women who slept less than five hours a night increased their odds of developing preeclampsia more than 9.5 times, and those who stayed in bed more than 10 hours had more than a twofold increased risk of preeclampsia.

Williams said the current study wasn't designed to find the cause behind these associations, but that the researchers theorize that changes in the body's circadian rhythm may occur when sleep habits change during pregnancy, and that these changes may cause hormonal changes that affect blood pressure levels.

"This is a very important study, but it's just a beginning," said Dr. Mary Rosser, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. Rosser said that there are numerous changes that occur during pregnancy that could affect blood pressure levels, such as the weight gain that's typical during pregnancy. Even if weight alone doesn't a
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