Sleep deprived mothers struggle to lose weight

January 1, 2008

Mothers of 6-month-old babies who get only 5 hours' sleep a night or less are more likely than their rested counterparts to retain at least 5 kg of the extra weight they gained during pregnancy.

Mothers of 6-month-old babies who get only 5 hours' sleep a night or less are more likely than their rested counterparts to retain at least 5 kg of the extra weight they gained during pregnancy, according to a study published online Oct. 29 in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Erica P. Gunderson, PhD, of Kaiser Permanente Research Foundation in Oakland, CA., and colleagues conducted a study of 940 women who were recruited during early pregnancy. Six months after the birth, 114 women (12%) slept 5 or fewer hours a day, 280 (30%) slept 6 hours a day, 321 (34 %) slept 7 hours, and 225 (24 %) slept 8 or more hours a day.

Of the 940 women, 124 (13%) developed substantial postpartum weight retention, i.e., 5 kg or more above their prepregnancy weight at 1 year postpartum. Women who slept 5 hours or less daily were three times more likely to be in this category than those who slept at least 6 hours a day.

Gunderson EP, Rifas-Shiman SL, Oken E, et al. Association of fewer hours of sleep at 6 months postpartum with substantial weight retention at 1 year postpartum. Am J Epidemiol. 2007;10.doi:10.1093/aje/kwm298.