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Short and long sleep in early pregnancy linked to high blood pressure in the third trimester
Date:9/30/2010

to dip by an average of 10 to 20 percent during sleep, short sleep durations may raise the average 24-hour blood pressure and heart rate. This may lead to structural changes that gradually raise the pressure equilibrium of the entire cardiovascular system. Sleep restriction also may produce abnormalities in the levels of hormones such as endothelin and vasopressin, which play an important role in the cardiovascular system. The authors suspect that the association between long sleep duration and elevated blood pressures may be related to unmeasured confounders such as obstructive sleep apnea, depression or insulin resistance.

Williams noted that this study is the first step at filling an important gap in the scientific literature. Because most sleep studies exclude pregnant women, little is known about how insufficient sleep during gestation contributes to increased risks of medical complications of pregnancy.

"Moving forward, large-scale sleep studies should include pregnancy cohorts so that health care providers and mothers-to-be can more fully appreciate the health risks of insufficient sleep," she said.

Williams advises pregnant women and women who are planning to become pregnant to develop healthy habits that promote sufficient sleep. The tips she suggested include:

  • Establishing a consistent sleep schedule
  • Following a relaxing bedtime routine
  • Creating a comfortable sleep environment
  • Keeping technological distractions such as the TV and computer out of the bedroom
  • Eating at least two to three hours before bedtime
  • Exercising regularly during the day
  • Avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bedtime and giving up smoking


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Contact: Emilee McStay
emcstay@aasmnet.org
630-737-9700 x9345
American Academy of Sleep Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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