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Patterns of Sleep Disruption and Depressive Symptoms in New Mothers

Goyal, Deepika MS, RN, FNP; Gay, Caryl L. PhD; Lee, Kathryn A. PhD, RN, FAAN

The Journal of Perinatal & Neonatal Nursing: April-June 2007 - Volume 21 - Issue 2 - p 123–129
doi: 10.1097/01.JPN.0000270629.58746.96
Feature Article

Objectives This study describes the patterns of sleep disturbance and depressive symptoms in a sample of childbearing women from the third trimester through the postpartum period. The relationship between sleep and depressive symptoms is also examined. A secondary aim of this study was to examine the relationship between self-report measures of sleep and depressive symptoms between women with depressive symptoms in comparison with women with minimal or no depressive symptoms in the third trimester and in the third month postpartum.

Methods This longitudinal, descriptive study followed 124 primiparous women from their last month of pregnancy through 3 months postpartum. Questionnaires on sleep and depressive symptoms were completed during the third trimester (Time 1), 1 month postpartum (Time 2), 2 months postpartum (Time 3), and during the third month postpartum (Time 4). Sleep measures in a subset of women with depressive symptoms were compared with those of women with minimal or no symptoms at Time 1 and Time 4.

Results and Conclusions Sleep disturbance and depressive symptoms were associated at Time 1 and Time 4. For new mothers, a complaint of trouble falling asleep (delayed sleep onset latency) may be the most relevant screening question in relation to their risk for postpartum depression.

Department of Family Health Care Nursing, University of California, San Francisco.

Corresponding author: Kathryn A. Lee, PhD, RN, FAAN, School of Nursing, University of California, Box 0606, San Francisco, CA 94143 (e-mail:

This research was supported by NIH/NINR grant #1 RO1 NR045345 and a Betty Irene Moore Doctoral Fellowship.

Submitted for publication: December 24, 2006

Accepted for publication: February 6, 2007

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.