Study links gestational diabetes to lack of sleep in pregnant women

Washington: Pregnant women may develop gestational diabetes due to lack of sleep, a new study suggests.

The amount of time spent sleeping has dropped significantly in the past twenty years with almost a quarter of women and 16 percent of men experiencing insufficient sleep. “Links between reduced sleep duration and increased diabetes risk have been reported in several large studies in non-pregnant populations,” said Dr. Sirimon Reutrakul, associate professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine.

The research has also linked short sleep duration to elevated blood sugar levels in pregnant women, but many of them were small. “More information is needed to determine if short sleep duration is a contributing factor to the development of gestational diabetes,” said Reutrakul who’s also the lead author of the study.

Pregnant women often suffer gestational diabetes, a condition which usually occurs in the second or third trimester. Most health care providers suggest that pregnant women undergo a blood sugar screening test between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy.

A woman is at an increased risk for having gestational diabetes if their blood sugar levels are elevated. Therefore, an additional test is then needed to diagnose gestational diabetes. Usually, there are no symptoms in the mother, and blood sugar levels return to normal after the baby is born.

Mothers with gestational diabetes newborns tend to have high weights during birth. The mothers are at a risk of developing type-2 diabetes later, along with their babies who are also at an increased risk for type-2 diabetes as well as obesity. The studies was performed a meta-analysis of eight studies that included 17,308 pregnant women who were assessed for sleep duration (all studies used self-reported questionnaires except one which measured sleep objectively using an accelerometer) and gestational diabetes.

The researchers also obtained raw individual participant data from the authors of four additional studies that included measurements of blood sugar levels and measured sleep duration objectively in 287 pregnant women with gestational diabetes for further analysis. The analysis of the studies showed that average sleep duration of less than 6 hours was associated with a 1.7 fold increase in the risk of being diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

“This is the first meta-analysis to find that both self-reported and objectively measured short sleep duration was associated with elevated blood sugar levels in pregnancy as well as an increased risk for developing gestational diabetes,” continued Reutrakul. “More research is needed to confirm our findings, and to determine whether sleep extension may be beneficial in lowering the risk of gestational diabetes,” she stated.

The finding was published in the journal of Sleep Medicine Reviews.