A new study links short sleep during pregnancy and gestational diabetes—suggesting that addressing sleep concerns during pregnancy may reduce the risk of developing the disease.
Gestational diabetes, diagnosed by high blood glucose levels, is one of the most common health problems during pregnancy. Unmanaged high glucose levels in pregnancy can result in complications affecting both mom and child, including preterm labor, obstructed labor, birth trauma, high blood pressure for mothers, and increased risk of mother and fetal deaths.
Previous studies have identified sleep as a factor that affects glucose metabolism and connected a lack of shuteye to an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. But few studies until now have looked at the relationship between sleep and gestational diabetes.
To determine if short sleep duration is associated with increased risk of GDM, Joshua Gooley, associate professor at Duke-NUS Medical School, and Cai Shirong from NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine and a member of the National University Health System, analyzed the sleep and glucose levels of participants in the Growing Up in Singapore Towards healthy Outcomes study.
To examine the potential link, 686 women completed a sleep questionnaire and had their glucose levels measured in an oral glucose tolerance test at 26 to 28 weeks of gestation. After adjusting for age and BMI, 19 percent of the study participants were diagnosed with gestational diabetes. The frequency was highest (27.3 percent) in women who reported sleeping less than six hours a night and lowest (16.8 percent) in women who reported getting seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
“Our results raise the possibility that good sleep habits could reduce the likelihood of developing hyperglycemia and GDM,” said Gooley, senior author of the paper.
“Our study provides a better understanding of how we may be able to counter a potentially serious condition for a pregnant woman and her child,” Cai said. “Additional studies are needed to assess the contribution of other modifiable lifestyle factors to GDM risk.”