Open Access Open Badges Research article

Short sleep duration, complaints of vital exhaustion and perceived stress are prevalent among pregnant women with mood and anxiety disorders

Chunfang Qiu1*, Bizu Gelaye2, Neway Fida13 and Michelle A Williams2

Author affiliations

1 Center for Perinatal Studies, Swedish Medical Center, 1124 Columbia Street, Suite 750, Seattle, Washington, USA

2 Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

3 Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

Citation and License

BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 2012, 12:104  doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-104

Published: 3 October 2012



Psychiatric disorders have been associated with sleep disorders in men and non-pregnant women, but little is known about sleep complaints and disorders among pregnant women with psychiatric disorders.


A cohort of 1,332 women was interviewed during early pregnancy. We ascertained psychiatric diagnosis status and collect information about sleep duration, daytime sleepiness, vital exhaustion and perceived stress. Logistic regression procedures were used to estimate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs).


Approximately 5.1% of the cohort (n=68) reported having a physician-diagnosis of mood or anxiety disorder before interview. Compared with women without a psychiatric diagnosis, the multivariable-adjusted OR (95% CI) for short sleep duration in early pregnancy (≤6 hours) were 1.95 (1.03-3.69). The corresponding OR (95%CI) for long sleep duration (≥9 hours) during early pregnancy was 1.13 (0.63-2.03). Women with psychiatric disorders had an increased risk of vital exhaustion (OR=2.41; 95%CI 1.46-4.00) and elevated perceived stress (OR=3.33; 95%CI 1.89-5.88). Observed associations were more pronounced among overweight/obese women.


Women with a psychiatric disorder were more likely to report short sleep durations, vital exhaustion and elevated perceived stress. Prospective studies are needed to more thoroughly explore factors that mediate the apparent mood/anxiety-sleep comorbidity among pregnant women.