Conference Coverage

New insights into sleep, pregnancy weight gain


Key clinical point: In overweight/obese women, shorter sleep times are linked to early gestational weight gain.

Major finding: Overweight/obese women slept 30% less and had higher gestational weight gain in early pregnancy.

Study details: Study of 62 women between 12 and 20 weeks’ gestation with prepregnancy BMI greater than 25 kg/m2.

Disclosures: Dr. Kolko reported having no financial relationships.

Source: Kolko RP et al. SLEEP 2018, Abstract 0692.



BALTIMORE – Pregnant women who are overweight and obese are like the general population in that the less they sleep, the more weight they gain, particularly in the first half of pregnancy. However, unlike in the larger adult population, prolonged daily total eating time was not associated with gestational weight gain in these women, particularly early in pregnancy, according to findings from a small study presented at the Associated Professional Sleep Societies annual meeting.

Those findings point to a need to further study the early gestational period to better understand the relationship between sleep, metabolic function, and pregnancy, said Rachel P. Kolko, PhD, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Pittsburgh, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic.

“The association with total sleep time was found to be significant, such that if you had less sleep, you had higher amounts of weight gain; we did not find a significant relation with our eating window variable,” Dr. Kolko said.

She reported on research involving 62 pregnant women, 53% of whom were overweight with a body mass index of 25-29.9 kg/m2 and 47% of whom were obese with BMI greater than 30. Forty-seven percent of the study population was nonwhite.

The research grew out of a need to identify potentially modifiable factors to curtail excessive gestational weight gain during pregnancy, she said. The study hypotheses were that both shorter total sleep time and longer total eating time would lead to higher gestational weight gain, but the study confirmed only the former as a contributing factor.

Dr. Rachel P. Kolko of the University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Rachel P. Kolko

The women in the study were at 12-20 weeks of pregnancy. Gestational weight gain was calculated as the difference between self-reported prepregnancy weight and current weight. Total sleep time was based on the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, and total eating time was calculated as the time difference between the day’s first meal or snack of more than 50 calories and the last, as self-reported.

Average total sleep time was 7.8 hours, with total eating time spanning 10.8 hours. On average, study participants gained 9.7 pounds through the first half of pregnancy, Dr. Kolko said. She noted that the Institute of Medicine, now known as the National Academy of Medicine, recommends that women who are overweight women gain 15-25 pounds during pregnancy and women who are obese gain 11-20 pounds (JAMA. 2017;317:2207-25). “Already about 20% of our sample has gained that amount of weight within the first half of pregnancy,” she said.

“Total sleep time was related to a higher early gestational weight in women with overweight and obesity, and it’s possible that addressing this may affect and hopefully improve women’s weight gain during early pregnancy to fit within those guidelines,” she said.

Future research should look at the entire gestational period – possibly targeting sleep patterns during pregnancy – and should expand to include women who are not overweight or obese, Dr. Kolko noted.

Dr. Kolko reported having no financial relationships to disclose.

SOURCE: Kolko RP, et al., SLEEP 2018, Abstract 0692.

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