The Interrelationships Between Sleep, Physical Activity, Psychological Well-Being, and Gestational Weight Gain in Overweight and Obese Pregnant Women

Open Access
Rogers, Tara Catherine
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Danielle Symons Downs, Thesis Supervisor
  • Mary Jane De Souza, Honors Advisor
  • pregnancy
  • overweight
  • obese
  • physical activity
  • sleep
  • sleep disturbances
  • psychological health
  • stress
  • depression
  • gestational weight gain
  • nap
  • pregnant women
Background: Pregnant women often experience a combination of sleep disturbances, reduced levels of physical activity, and increased symptoms of stress and depression. Previous studies have suggested that disturbed sleep, low levels of physical activity, and poor psychological health all contribute to excessive gestational weight gain (GWG), which can lead to further complications. However, limited research has examined the combined associations of these factors in relation to GWG. The purpose of this study was twofold: (1) examine the interrelationships between sleep, physical activity, psychological health, and GWG to understand the extent to which these factors are related over a brief, 6-week pilot intervention to manage GWG; and (2) use the data collected in the first purpose to inform the development of specific sleep intervention content for a larger intervention trial to manage GWG. Methods: Participants included a cohort of overweight/obese pregnant women participating in a pilot test of the Healthy Mom Zone intervention to manage GWG. Data was collected at pre- and post-intervention and daily for sleep (i.e., sleep time, nap time, and number of times woke), physical activity (i.e., total active time via activity monitor), perceived stress (Perceived Stress Scale), and weight. Data were collected only pre- and post-intervention for depressive symptoms (Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression-Scale) and leisure-time exercise behavior (Leisure-Time Exercise Questionnaire). Results: Across the 6-week study, total sleep time was significantly and positively associated with physical activity (i.e., week [W]5) and stress (i.e., W1-6) and negatively associated with depressive symptoms (i.e., at pre- and post-intervention). Nap time was positively associated with stress (i.e., W1-6) and depressive symptoms (i.e., at pre- and post-intervention). Number of times woke was negatively associated with GWG (i.e., W3 and W4) and positively associated with stress (i.e., W1 and W4) and depression (i.e., pre- and post-intervention). Discussion: Given the associations between sleep and physical activity, psychological health, and GWG, sleep may be an important modifiable target for interventions in pregnancy. By targeting strategies to improve sleep hygiene (e.g., creating a cool, quiet sleep environment, reducing sugary foods before bed), researchers may be able to indirectly promote increased physical activity, reduced stress and depressive symptoms, and better manage GWG. The study findings from this thesis may be useful to other researchers aiming to promote health in pregnant women. The findings will specifically be used to inform the development of sleep intervention content for a larger randomized trial of the Healthy Mom Zone study to manage GWG with overweight and obese pregnant women.