Associations between prenatal sleep and psychological health: A systematic review

Abigail M. Pauley, Ginger A. Moore, Scherezade K. Mama, Peter Molenaar, Danielle Symons Downs

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Study Objectives: This systematic review aimed to examine the: (1) strength of associations between prenatal sleep (ie, duration, quality, and insomnia) and psychological health (ie, depression, anxiety, and stress); and (2) moderating influence of sociodemographic characteristics (ie, maternal age, gestational age/trimester, parity, marital and socioeconomic status [SES]), body mass index (BMI), and meeting sleep recommendations. Methods: A systematic search was conducted using PubMed, PsycINFO, Web of Science, and CINHAL to identify studies with at least one sleep measure and a psychological health outcome. Effect sizes (ES) were calculated by associations between individual components of sleep and psychological health (eg, sleep quality-depression). Results: Reviewed studies (n = 32) included 14,648 participants and yielded 219 ES. ES for anxiety/stress were combined due to insufficient data to analyze individually. Average strengths of associations for sleep duration-depression (ES = .52) and sleep duration-anxiety/stress (ES = .48), sleep quality-depression (ES = .55) and sleep quality-anxiety/stress (ES = .58), and insomnia-depression (ES = .67) ranged from medium to large. Marital status, parity, BMI, and meeting sleep recommendations moderated sleep duration-depression and sleep duration-anxiety/stress. SES, gestational age/trimester, parity, and BMI moderated sleep quality-depression and sleep quality-anxiety/stress associations. Conclusions: Poor sleep quality and depression are prevalent during pregnancy and may negatively impact maternal and fetal outcomes. Moderating effects suggest that pregnant women of different BMI status and gestational age differ in their sleep habits and depression and anxiety/stress levels. Findings highlight the need to better understand the impact of these associations on maternal-fetal outcomes to inform interventions to improve sleep and psychological health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)619-630
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Clinical Sleep Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 15 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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