Pregnant women who get less than six hours sleep a night are at far higher risk of getting gestational diabetes (GDM) – which in turn raises their risk of getting type 2 diabetes following the birth of their child.
The findings from Singapore’s largest birth cohort study found that 27.3 per cent of pregnant women who slept less than six hours a night had GDM compared to 16.8 per cent of those who slept 7 to 8 hours a night.
Indians were at the highest risk with 25 per cent getting GDM, compared to 20.5 per cent among Chinese and 12.4 per cent for Malays.
The Gusto (Growing Up in Singapore Towards Healthy Outcomes) study recruited a total of 1,247 women patients at the KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) and the National University Hospital (NUH) between June 2009 and September 2010. The 1,176 babies born are still being tracked.
The study has already published many significant findings – such as one in five pregnant women here sufer from GDM and babies exposed to two languages may have better memory.
The latest that linked lack of sleep with higher risk of GDM was published online in the internationally accredited Sleep journal last month.
The lead investigator, Associate Professor Joshua Gooley from Duke-NUS Medical School said the results “raise the possibility” that good sleep habits could reduce the incidence of GDM among pregnant women here – which at one in five is double that in the United States.
The paper pointed out that adults in urbanised Asian countries like Japan, Korea and Singapore “sleep substantially less than their counterparts in Western countries.
However, the paper said the study did not track if the women took any daytime naps, and could not say if it made a difference in their risk of getting GDM.
A version of this article appeared in The Straits Times.