Changes in sleep and sleep electroencephalogram during pregnancy

Sleep. 1994 Oct;17(7):576-82. doi: 10.1093/sleep/17.7.576.


The impairment of sleep quality is a common complaint during pregnancy. To investigate the changes in sleep in the course of pregnancy, the sleep electroencephalogram (EEG) was recorded and analyzed in nine healthy women on 2 consecutive nights during each trimester of pregnancy. Waking after sleep onset increased from the second (TR2) to the third (TR3) trimester, whereas rapid eye movement (REM) sleep decreased from the first trimester (TR1) to TR2. Spectral analysis of the EEG in nonrapid eye movement (NREM) sleep revealed a progressive reduction of power density in the course of pregnancy. In comparison to TR1, the values in TR2 were significantly lower in the 10.25-11.0-Hz and 14.25-17.0-Hz bands. In TR3, the significant reduction extended over the ranges of 1.25-12.0 Hz and 13.25-16.0 Hz. The largest decrease (30%) occurred in the 14.25-15.0-Hz band. In REM sleep, the spindle frequency range was not affected, and a minor reduction of power density in some frequency bins below 12 Hz was present only in TR3. The study documents major alterations of the sleep EEG that are not evident from the sleep scores and that may be associated with the characteristic hormonal changes occurring during pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Polysomnography
  • Pregnancy / physiology*
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Time Factors