Gestational diabetes is defined as high blood sugar levels in a pregnant woman who has no prior history of diabetes usually in the second half of pregnancy. Incidence is rising with time because of many reasons, lifestyle and genetics being the most important ones.
Pregnancy causes many hormonal changes in the body leading to diabetes like state and resistance to insulin. Placenta produces many insulin opposing hormones.
Risk factors for gestational diabetes are :
Several studies have proven that lack of sleep also raises the risk of gestational diabetes. In various studies after adjusting various variables such as age, BMI, ethnicity it was found that women who slept less than 6 hours per night were more likely ( almost 2 times) to have GDM as compared to women who slept adequately. Good sleep is associated with reduced likelihood of hyperglycemia and GDM.
Sleep is a very important lifestyle change besides diet and exercise which can do wonders to the blood sugar levels. Reduced sleep duration is a significant contributor to metabolic dysfunction. This is already proven by various studies in non-pregnant people, now being true in pregnancy as well. Recommended sleep duration is 7-8 hours per night and 8-10 hours during pregnancy. It is also an independent risk factor for increased mortality. During recent times, sleep duration has fallen by 2-3 hours per night.
Sleep pattern in pregnancy
Sleep pattern in pregnancy undergoes a drastic change according to the various trimesters.
Mechanism of sleep and its effect on hormones & pregnancy:
Sleep can alter the effectiveness of both glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity. Hormonal interplay during sleep promotes normoglycemia which is disrupted by sleep deprivation. Sleep restriction leads to stress leads to increased secretion of stress hormone cortisol which is diabetogenic causing raised sugar levels.
It also causes systemic inflammatory response causing insulin resistance and raised blood glucose levels. Other risks of sleep deprivation can be
To minimise sleep deprivation, few measures that can be adopted are limiting caffeine use and avoiding electronics at bedtime.
In conclusion, pregnancy is associated with significant hormonal, biochemical and physical variations. Sleep is also modified trimester wise. Total sleep time and quality are compromised. More research is needed to confirm the findings and to investigate whether increasing sleep duration can lower the risk of GDM. But it is a simple measure which you can adopt in your lifestyle and save yourself from many problems related to sleep deprivation.