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Guided Imagery: An Innovative Approach to Improving Maternal Sleep Quality

Schaffer, Linda PhD; Jallo, Nancy PhD; Howland, Lois DrPH; James, Kathy DNSc, FAAN; Glaser, Dale PhD; Arnell, Kathy RNC

The Journal of Perinatal & Neonatal Nursing: April/June 2013 - Volume 27 - Issue 2 - p 151–159
doi: 10.1097/JPN.0b013e3182870426
Feature Articles

Mothers of preterm infants are at risk for poor sleep quality, which may adversely affect their health, maternal-infant attachment, and infant caretaking activities. This study examined the relationship of an 8-week relaxation guided imagery intervention on sleep quality and the association between sleep quality and maternal distress (perceived stress, depressive symptoms, and state anxiety) in 20 mothers of hospitalized preterm infants. Mothers received a CD (compact disc) with three 20-minutes recordings and were asked to listen to at least 1 recording daily for 8 weeks. This analysis used self-report data gathered at baseline and 8 weeks. Pearson correlations were used to examine the relationships between mean cumulative relaxation guided imagery use and measures of maternal distress and sleep quality scores at 8 weeks. Complete data on 19 mothers were available for analysis. At 8 weeks, higher mean relaxation guided imagery use was inversely correlated with sleep quality scores (r = −0.30); sleep quality scores were positively correlated with stress (r = 0.42), depressive symptoms (r = 0.34), and anxiety (r = 0.39) scores. In mothers of preterm infants, sleep quality was negatively affected by mental distress and may be improved by a guided imagery intervention.

School of Nursing, California State University Fullerton (Dr Schaffer); School of Nursing, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond (Dr Jallo); Hahn School of Nursing and Health Sciences, University of San Diego, San Diego, California (Drs Howland, James, Glaser), and Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women and Newborns, San Diego, California (Ms Arnell).

Corresponding Author: Linda Schaffer, PhD, School of Nursing, California State University, Fullerton, 800 N. State College Blvd, Fullerton, CA 92831 (

This research was supported in part by The Doris A. Howell Foundation for Women's Health Research.

Disclosure: The authors have disclosed that they have no significant relationships with, or financial interest in, any commercial companies pertaining to this article.

Submitted for publication: October 11, 2012; accepted for publication: January 9, 2013.

Copyright © 2013 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.