Evidence based practice tailored to personal needs
Finally! Results from our study!
October 24, 2016
Many of you are aware we have been conducting research looking at a program to improve sleep for new mothers. This research began at the Woolcock Institute 4 years ago (including 1 year of maternity leave and a new perspective for me!) and finally, we are excited to be sharing the results!
But first, a bit of background and why we conducted this study…
Many of you probably already know that sleep during pregnancy is difficult with ¾ of women reporting sleep problems at some point in their pregnancy. These difficulties change and after the birth of the baby when 22.5% of women experience insomnia and almost all women have fragmented sleep caring for their infants. Aside from being extremely difficult and exhausting for the parent, increased sleep disturbance is associated with mood disorders and postnatal depression which can impact the infant as well.
The aim of study was to determine whether a sleep psychoeducation program delivered to mothers during their third trimester of pregnancy with their first baby could improve sleep and, if so, could it also improve mood in the postnatal period.
215 mothers were randomised to receive either 2 x 1.5hr slide presentations with a set of sleep & relaxation booklets or general sleep booklets only. (Randomising participants ensures that other factors such as breastfeeding/parenting styles etc are equal between groups and therefore we can be more certain that our results were produced by the effect of the program). Participants were followed up with phone calls at 3 & 6 weeks postpartum and with questionnaires at 6 weeks, 4 months and 10 months postpartum.
We were interested in 4 main sleep outcomes, sleep quality, Insomnia, sleepiness and fatigue. Our secondary interest was mood.
Our extensive analyses indicated that those who received the program had better sleep quality and fewer insomnia symptoms at 4 months postpartum than those who did not receive the program. In addition, almost twice as many people in the control group met the criteria for severe poor sleep quality and almost 4 times as many had clinical insomnia than those in the program group. Other outcomes showed similar trajectories of change where the intervention group had less fatigue and better mood than the control group, however, statistical significance was not reached for these outcomes. By 10 months postnatal, all scores were equal.
So what does this all mean? Essentially, given the low cost associated with this program and its ability to hasten the return of better sleep and reduce one’s risk of insomnia, it should be recommended to expectant mothers and possibly offered in hospital antenatal classes. We also expect that those with a history of sleep disorders, anxiety or depression may benefit even more from the program although further studies (another 4 years!) will need to be conducted to confirm this.
So - expectant mothers hoping to avoid postpartum sleep trouble, contact us through our website to access this program.
For those of you disappointed to have missed out and already struggling with your or your child’s sleep, we offer different programs for that too. Feel free to get in touch.
Thank you to everyone involved in making this study possible! After submitting my thesis, the results will be published in a journal and those wanted greater detail will be able to read it.
Sleep And Pregnancy: What To Expect From Each Trimester