Poor or insufficient sleep can raise the risk of pregnant women developing gestational diabetes, researchers in Singapore said in a study published in the journal SLEEP.
Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is a common health problem during pregnancy, and is diagnosed by high blood glucose levels, the study explained. Elevated blood glucose levels can result in a number of complications, including premature birth, obstructed labor, high blood pressure for mothers and blood pressure-related trauma for infants, and increased risk of maternal or fetal death, it added.
Based on other studies that have shown that reduced sleep is a risk factor for Type 2 diabetes, researchers Dr. Cai Shirong from the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Associate Professor Joshua Gooley from the Duke-NUS Medical School sought to study the relationship between sleep and GDM, particularly in an Asian population. The researchers hypothesized that lack of sleep could contribute to GDM in Asian women, who already have an increased risk of GDM compared to Caucasian women, they explained.
The research team analyzed the sleep and glucose levels of 686 participants in the Growing Up in Singapore Towards Healthy Outcomes (GUSTO) study overseen by Singapore’s health department. The researchers surveyed the women on their sleep patterns and measured their glucose levels at 26 to 28 weeks of gestation.
Of the 686 participants who had their glucose levels measured, 131 (19 percent) were diagnosed with GDM, the study said. Statistical analyses were run to assess whether exposure to short sleep, defined as less than six hours per night, was associated with greater odds of having GDM. The researchers found that short sleep was associated with increased risk of GDM, after adjusting for factors including age, body mass index (BMI), and history of GDM.
Moreover, the frequency of GDM was highest (27.3 percent) in women who reported sleeping less than six hours a night and was lowest (16.8 percent) in women who reported sleeping between seven to eight hours a night, results that the researchers said are consistent with findings which show that short sleep is associated with Type 2 diabetes in non-pregnant populations.