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Abstract

Background: Sleep disturbances are frequent during pregnancy and postpartum. However, detailed research of sleep in couples during pregnancy and postpartum is lacking.

Objective: Changes of sleep for primi- and multiparous pregnant women and their partners from late pregnancy to three months postpartum. The particular focus of this study is on sex differences in sleep, sleep problems, mutual sleep influence of couples, and the influences of parity and feeding methods on couples’ sleep.

Materials and Methods: The sample included 69 pregnant couples in the last trimester of pregnancy (t1) and three months after birth (t2). Sleep was measured with sleep diary for both times of measurement. The Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) assessed sleep disturbances. Other variables as parity and infant feeding type were determined by questionnaire. Besides results for woman and men, also dyadic data are calculated.

Results: Over the time women had a worse sleep quality than men. They had a prolonged sleep onset latency, higher frequency and longer duration of night wakings than men. Sleep efficiency for women was prepartal 83.32% and postpartal 83.6% below the clinically cut-off value of 85%. For 56.52% of women at t1 and for 55.07% at t2 PSQI scores exceeded the clinically cut-off of 5. However, men suffered from a sleep loss after birth of their child, too. In pregnancy and postpartum men reported lower total sleep time at both times of measurement in comparison to women. For 30.43% of men at T1 and for 24.64% at T2 PSQI score exceeded the clinically cut-off of 5. Sleep efficiency for men was prepartal 90.96% and postpartal 90.69%. Results indicate predictive links between prepartal PSQI of couples to postpartal PSQI. Neither parity nor feeding method could explain variance in postpartal PSQI-score.

Conclusion: This is one of the very rare studies incorporating dyadic data. Results show the need of diagnosing and treating existing sleep problems in pregnancy to prevent future sleep problems postpartum.