Researchers at the University of California San Francisco recently uncovered a connection between sleep disorders and a risk of preterm delivery. The results came after a study that focused on specific sleep disorders like insomnia and sleep apnea that occur during pregnancy.

What researchers discovered

Findings showed that the prevalence of a preterm birth (giving birth before 37 weeks of gestation) was 14.6 percent for sleep-disorder affected pregnant women, compared with 10.9 percent for the control group.

Among a group of 3 million women, only 2,265 of them were diagnosed with a sleep disorder during pregnancy and therefore met the inclusion criteria for participating. This group size allowed the researchers to hone in on the direct relationship between various sleep disorders and preterm births separated into classifications like early and late preterm births and early induced deliveries.

The true prevalence of sleep disorders in expecting women remains unclear, as it’s rare that a mom is formally diagnosed with sleep apnea or insomnia before or during her pregnancy. Since this issue has been proven to affect so many expecting moms, researchers concluded that a proper diagnosis could have a positive impact on birth rate. As a risk factor, a sleep disorder is easily managed and can be controlled to avoid further complications in a pregnancy or birth.

How to monitor sleep during pregnancy

If you’re an expecting mom, you might wonder what this study means for you. Thankfully, if you are suffering from a sleep disorder this is a condition that can be managed effectively. You will want to look for warning signs to make sure you’re healthy throughout pregnancy. Below we have listed some warning signs of sleep apnea, a common sleep disorder that affects men, women, and children.

How can you tell the difference between normal interrupted sleep during pregnancy and sleep apnea?

  • Loud snoring is the #1 symptom — can your snoring be heard from behind closed doors?
  • Your partner might notice that you are “choking” at night, or that you are demonstrating shallow breathing, periods of no breathing, or gasping.
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness is a huge warning sign of a sleep disorder interrupting your sleep cycle.
  • Frequent nighttime urination, waking up with a headache, dry mouth, or heartburn can be common factors that lead to a sleep apnea diagnosis.

Stay on top of your health to avoid complications

Identifying women at a higher risk of giving birth early and offering effective treatments may help prevent preterm birth altogether. If you suspect that you have a sleep disorder, it’s best to get on track to a better night’s sleep by visiting your doctor or taking a home test for sleep apnea. Treating sleep disorders during pregnancy can have a positive impact on your overall health for many years to come.