Pregnancy isn’t easy. The physiological and hormonal changes which accompany pregnancy can take a toll on the body and even disrupt sleep. Pregnant women face a higher risk of developing several sleep disorders like sleep apnea and insomnia, all of which can pose a risk to healthy births. To help mitigate these risks and help pregnant women feel better throughout pregnancy, a new study suggests that naps during pregnancy may actually be linked with healthier birth weight.

The study was conducted by researchers at the Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China. The study’s authors compared health and sleep data from over 10,000 women who participated in the 2012-2014 Healthy Baby Cohort study in China. Women in the study who napped between 60 and 90 minutes a day were found to be 29% less likely to have a baby with low birth weight when compared to mothers who took no naps at all. According to the study, this is the first known research to discover a possible link between napping and low birth weight, or LBW:

To our knowledge, this is the first study to estimate the association between afternoon napping and frequency of afternoon napping during late pregnancy and LBW risk. Our findings suggest that appropriate afternoon napping and frequency of afternoon napping for pregnant women might reduce the risk of LBW.

The study wasn’t controlled, so there could be other variables at play. Therefore, researchers are careful not to make any definitive conclusions about the study. Still, the data present yet another hint that sleep is even more vital for pregnant mothers and their developing babies. “Sleep is another vital sign that we should measure. Pregnant women shouldn’t get unnecessarily tested for sleep disorders, but sleep in general is highly underrated, especially in the United States,” Dr. Suzanne Karan of the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York told Reuters after reading the study.

The publication of this research comes on the heels of another Chinese study which found that midday naps can boost academic performance in students. Do the Chinese know something we don’t know when it comes to napping?

Brett Tingley

Brett Tingley is a writer and musician from the mountains of Western North Carolina. Contact him at [email protected]

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