A shorter duration of sleep has been associated with greater weight gain in young adults and with a higher prevalence of obesity in adults, as well as coronary artery disease and diabetes in women. Whether sleep deprivation in the postpartum period influences postpartum weight retention remains uncertain. This study examined the association between sleep duration 6 months postpartum and substantial postpartum weight retention (SPPWR), defined as a weight 5 kg or more above pregravid weight at 12 months postpartum. Participants were 940 women with singleton pregnancies who were enrolled during early pregnancy from 1999 to 2002. Logistic regression models estimated odds ratios (ORs) of SPPWR for categories of sleep duration while controlling for sociodemographic, clinical prenatal, and postpartum behavioral attributes.
Thirteen percent of the study subjects developed SPPWR. Of the 940 women taking part in the study, 12% reported sleeping 5 or fewer hours a day, 30% reported 6 hours or less, 34% reported 7 hours, and 24% reported 8 or more hours a day. Compared to sleeping 7 hours a day, the adjusted OR of SPPWR for those sleeping 5 or fewer hours of sleep a day was 3.13 [95% confidence interval (CI), 1.42–6.94]; 0.99 (95% CI, 0.95–1.97) for those sleeping 6 hours a day; and 0.94 (95% CI, 0.50–1.78) for those sleeping 8 or more hours a day (P = 0.012). At 12 months postpartum, the adjusted OR for SPPWR was 2-fold greater (2.05; 95% CI, 1.11–3.78; P = 0.02) for women who had a decrease in sleep duration compared to women who had no change in duration of sleep.
The findings in this study support the hypothesis that modifying sleep duration in the postpartum period might help to prevent postpartum weight retention.