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Sleep disturbances are highly prevalent in pregnancy and are frequently overlooked as a potential cause of significant morbidity. The association between sleep disturbances and pregnancy outcomes remains largely controversial and needs to be clarified to guide management. To evaluate the association between sleep disturbances and maternal complications and adverse fetal outcomes, we performed a systematic search of PubMed, Embase and Web of Science for English-language articles published from inception to March 6, 2020, including observational studies of pregnant women with and without sleep disturbances assessing the risk of obstetric complications in the antenatal, intrapartum or postnatal period, and neonatal complications. Data extraction was completed independently by two reviewers. We utilized the Newcastle-Ottawa Scales to assess the methodological quality of included studies and random-effect models to pool the associations. A total of 120 studies with 58,123,250 pregnant women were included. Sleep disturbances were assessed, including poor sleep quality, extreme sleep duration, insomnia symptoms, restless legs syndrome, subjective sleep-disordered breathing and diagnosed obstructive sleep apnea. Significant associations were found between sleep disturbances in pregnancy and a variety of maternal complications and adverse fetal outcomes. Overall sleep disturbances were significantly associated with pre-eclampsia (odds ratio = 2.80, 95% confidence interval: 2.38-3.30), gestational hypertension (1.74, 1.54-1.97), gestational diabetes mellitus (1.59, 1.45-1.76), cesarean section (1.47, 1.31-1.64), preterm birth (1.38, 1.26-1.51), large for gestational age (1.40, 1.11-1.77), and stillbirth (1.25, 1.08-1.45), but not small for gestational age (1.03, 0.92-1.16), or low birth weight (1.27, 0.98-1.64). Sleep disturbances were related to higher morbidities in pregnant women who are 30 y or older and overweight before pregnancy. The findings indicate that sleep disturbances, which are easily ignored and treatable for both pregnant women and clinical services, deserve more attention from health care providers during prenatal counseling and health care services.

Original publication




Journal article


Sleep Med Rev

Publication Date





Fetal outcomes, Maternal complications, Meta-analysis, Pregnancy, Sleep disturbance, Cesarean Section, Diabetes, Gestational, Female, Humans, Infant, Newborn, Pregnancy, Pregnancy Complications, Pregnancy Outcome, Premature Birth, Sleep