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Binge Eating And Pregnancy Sleep Disorders

Posted on October 11, 2012 by Dr. Erin Elliott

Binge eating or consuming unusually large amounts of food, before or during pregnancy, can cause sleep problems during pregnancy. Those sleep problems can also last as long as 18 months after childbirth.

Scientists found that women with binge eating disorder symptoms before and during pregnancy had more sleep problems than a group of women with no reported symptoms. They also had increased sleep dissatisfaction 18 months after childbirth.

Participants with binge eating disorder symptoms before and during pregnancy, pre-pregnancy symptoms that went away during pregnancy, or pregnant women who binge eat for emotional reasons, were 26 percent more likely, to report sleeping problems than participants with no reported eating disorder symptoms.

All women, regardless of eating disorder status, reported more sleep problems during the first 18 weeks of pregnancy. This is because women experience changes in their sleep patterns by their 11-12th week of pregnancy. As a result, they get more hours of sleep, but less deep sleep, and more waking up during the night. In addition to hormonal changes and the physical discomfort, conditions like sleep-disordered breathing and restless leg syndrome sometimes appear during pregnancy.

The authors of the study, published in the journal SLEEP recommend comprehensive mental health screening during pregnancy. To their knowledge, their study is the only one to examine sleep and binge eating symptoms during pregnancy.