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Sleep Adv


STUDY OBJECTIVES: Sleep disruption is common in pregnancy, manifesting as insomnia in half of pregnant women as well as increasing objective nocturnal wakefulness across gestation. Despite potential overlap between insomnia and objective sleep disturbances in pregnancy, objective nocturnal wakefulness and its potential contributing factors remain uncharacterized in prenatal insomnia. The present study described objective sleep disturbances in pregnant women with insomnia and identified insomnia-related predictors of objective nocturnal wakefulness.

METHODS: Eighteen pregnant women with clinically significant insomnia symptoms (n = 12/18 with DSM-5 insomnia disorder) underwent two overnight polysomnography (PSG) studies. Insomnia symptoms (Insomnia Severity Index), depression and suicidal ideation (Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale), and nocturnal cognitive arousal (Pre-Sleep Arousal Scale, Cognitive factor) were assessed before bedtime on each PSG night. Unique to Night 2, participants were awakened after 2 minutes of N2 sleep and reported their in-lab nocturnal (i.e. pre-sleep) cognitive arousal.

RESULTS: Difficulty maintaining sleep was the most common objective sleep disturbance affecting 65%-67% of women across both nights, which contributed to short and inefficient sleep. Nocturnal cognitive arousal and suicidal ideation were the most robust predictors of objective nocturnal wakefulness. Preliminary evidence suggested nocturnal cognitive arousal mediates the effects of suicidal ideation and insomnia symptoms on objective nocturnal wakefulness.

CONCLUSIONS: Nocturnal cognitive arousal may facilitate upstream effects of suicidal ideation and insomnia symptoms on objective nocturnal wakefulness. Insomnia therapeutics reducing nocturnal cognitive arousal may benefit objective sleep in pregnant women presenting with these symptoms.

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