Poor Postpartum Sleep Quality Predicts Subsequent Postpartum Depressive Symptoms in a High-Risk Sample

J Clin Sleep Med. 2019 Sep 15;15(9):1303-1310. doi: 10.5664/jcsm.7924.


Study objectives: Postpartum depression (PPD) occurs in 15% to 20% of mothers worldwide and is associated with adverse outcomes for mother and child. Prior research has established a relationship between concurrent sleep quality and PPD. We conducted a secondary analysis in 45 women with mood disorders to study overall sleep quality (and individual components of sleep), measured in the early postpartum period, as a predictor of subsequent PPD.

Methods: We measured sleep quality using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI; subscale and total scores) at 1 month postpartum (and during the third trimester). We measured depressive symptoms using the Inventory of Depressive Symptoms, Self-Report (IDS-SR) at 3 months postpartum. We used bivariate and multivariate linear regression models to study the association between PSQI and IDS scores.

Results: We found that higher global PSQI scores as well as higher component scores for self-reported sleep quality, sleep latency, sleep efficiency, sleep medication usage, and daytime dysfunction, measured 1 month postpartum, were associated with increased IDS scores (at 3 months postpartum (P = .01, .01, .01, .003, < .001, respectively). We did not find an association between poor sleep quality in the third trimester and PPD.

Conclusions: Poor sleep quality in the early postpartum period independently predicts development of later PPD. This is clinically significant and highlights the importance of sleep interventions as an immediate postpartum therapeutic tool.

Citation: McEvoy KM, Rayapati D, Washington Cole KO, Erdly C, Payne JL, Osborne LM. Poor postpartum sleep quality predicts subsequent postpartum depressive symptoms in a high-risk sample. J Clin Sleep Med. 2019;15(9):1303-1310.

Keywords: perinatal; postpartum; postpartum depression; risk factor; sleep quality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Depression, Postpartum / complications*
  • Depression, Postpartum / diagnosis
  • Depression, Postpartum / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Postpartum Period
  • Pregnancy
  • Self Report
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / complications*
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / psychology*