This Month in Psychopharmacology

2023 NEI Synapse: Sleep Issues During Pregnancy and Postpartum

2023 NEI Synapse Session Highlight

Goodnight Mom: Sleep Issues During Pregnancy and Postpartum
Presented by Jade Wu, PhD, DBSM

Friday, March 31, 2023

On Friday at the 2023 NEI Synapse, we closed out the day with a special a lecture on sleep disturbances during and after pregnancy, presented by Jade Q. Wu, PhD, DBSM. She began by addressing the prevalence of sleep/wake problems, with up to 90% of pregnant women reporting significantly disturbed sleep and approximately half of them reporting daytime sleepiness.

In her presentation, Dr. Wu focused on potential causes of sleep disruptions during pregnancy, which include physical discomfort, decreased physical activity, and frequent urination. Some of the potential consequences associated with sleep deprivation during pregnancy are: gestational diabetes, increased circulating inflammatory markers, prolonged labor, and postpartum maternal mental health problems. The most common sleep disturbances during pregnancy are insomnia and sleep-disordered breathing. Circadian alterations frequently occur during the postpartum period, with the first 1-3 months being the most difficult adjustment period.

Dr. Wu concluded her talk by discussing the unique challenges for treating sleep disruptions during the perinatal period, particularly because pharmacological treatment is not often the most optimal option. One study of 54 healthy pregnant women in the third trimester reported that trazodone and diphenhydramine increased sleep duration and efficiency at 6 weeks. The most effective and safe treatment approach for insomnia during pregnancy is approximately 4-6 sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I). For obstructive sleep apnea, a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device is recommended, along with positional adjustments for sleeping. Finally, light therapy has demonstrated significant improvement for circadian disruptions during the postpartum period.

Jade Q. Wu, PhD, DBSM. Goodnight Mom: Sleep Issues During Pregnancy and Postpartum. Presented March 31 at 2023 NEI Synapse, Nashville, TN.

To Learn More: The recording of this presentation, as well as all of the other presentations from the 2023 NEI Synapse, will be available as Encore Presentations for NEI Members.


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