Erica P. Gunderson, Ph.D., of the Kaiser Permanente Research Foundation
–“Women deprived of only a couple hours of sleep a night after the birth of a child may find it more difficult even a year later to lose weight gained during pregnancy.
–New mothers who slept five hours or less per day when their babies were six months old were three times more likely to have retained at least 11 pounds at one year than those who slept seven hours per day.
–This association was found despite controlling for factors such as gestational weight gain and may have important implications for women.
–Efforts against postpartum weight retention have focused on diet and exercise, but sleep was as important as either of these obvious targets.
Weight retention at one year was also influenced by sleep duration as reported at six months.
–Sleeping for five or fewer hours a day tripled the unadjusted odds of substantial weight retention.
–The reason for the association may be the effect of sleep deprivation on hormones controlling appetite, such as leptin and ghrelin, or on increasing cortisol levels, the researchers said.
–And, while the study suggests increasing sleep duration during the postpartum period could help women regain their prepregnancy weight, intervention studies will be required, they added.