Sleep quality of pregnant women


Many studies have shown that maternal fatty acid consumption may influence length of gestation. Particularly, it seems that lower intake of DHA predicts shorter length of gestation. A possible mechanism that links DHA consumption and length of gestation has to do with its effect on sleep: DHA is associated with better sleep quality (subjective and objective). Moreover, sleep quality is linked with inflammation: there is an association between poor sleep quality during pregnancy, risk for shorter gestation and elevations in blood levels of a pro-inflammatory agent, the IL-8. Pregnancy is characterized by elevations in inflammatory markers: higher levels of IL-8 have been observed in relation to shorter sleep duration and to obstructive sleep apnea, and also with preterm labor. In contrast, anti-inflammatory effects of omega-3 fatty acids are well-established.

DHA is crucial to fetal development, and due to its transfer from the mother to the fetus, maternal DHA levels decrease markedly and progressively during pregnancy, and may not return to normal levels until several months postpartum. An insufficient intake of DHA may increase inflammation and to induce sleep disturbance (additionally, pregnancy exacerbates sleep disturbance in itself).

Taking into account that it has been observed that poor sleep in pregnancy is related with shorter gestation, among other outcomes, it is important to ensure an adequate supply of DHA for both, mother and baby, during pregnancy and lactation.



Christian LM, Blair LM, Porter K et al. Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid (PUFA) Status in Pregnant Women: Associations with Sleep Quality, Inflammation, and Length of Gestation. PLoS One. 2016 Feb 9;11(2):e0148752. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0148752. eCollection 2016.


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