Sleep and Overeating While Pregnant

Pregnant binge eaters have more difficulty with sleeping during and after pregnancy

(RxWiki News) Pregnancy is notorious for causing women difficulty with sleeping — though not as notorious as the months after the baby arrives. Having an eating disorder can worsen the problem.

A recent study found that women who had binge eating disorder were more likely to have sleeping problems during and after pregnancy.

"Ask your doctor for help with insomnia."

The study, led by T. Frances Ullman, PhD, of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, looked at how well women with binge eating disorder fared with sleep a year and a half after giving birth.

Using the data from 72,435 women in the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study, they compared pregnant women who had binge eating disorder to those who did not.

While 1,495 women (2.1 percent of the those in the study) had binge eating disorder both before and during pregnancy, 921 (1.3 percent) had the disorder before but not during pregnancy and 1,235 (1.7 percent) reported having it only during pregnancy.

These women were compared to the 68,784 (95 percent) who did not have binge eating disorder before or during pregnancy.

All the women were given questionnaires at three different times: at approximately 17 weeks of pregnancy, at about 30 weeks of pregnancy and at about 18 months after childbirth.

The researchers also took into account the women's demographics and their history of eating disorder before and during pregnancy.

Other data gathered included what sleep problems they experienced in the first 4 months of pregnancy, how many hours of sleep they got during the third trimester and how well they were sleeping 18 months after having their child.

The researchers found that the women who had binge eating disorder at any time (before or during pregnancy) were a little more likely to have sleeping difficulties in the first 18 weeks of their pregnancies.

They were also all more likely to have dissatisfaction with sleeping 18 months after giving birth.

However, women who had binge eating disorder during pregnancy were 1.5 times more likely to report more hours of sleep than those who had never had binge eating disorder.

The researchers concluded that having binge eating disorder before or during pregnancy increases the likelihood that women will have sleeping problems during pregnancy or a year and a half later.

The study was published in the October issue of the journal Sleep. The research was funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education and Research, the National Institutes of Health and the Norwegian Research Council. The authors declared no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
October 5, 2012