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J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. 2009 Jan-Feb;38(1):60-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1552-6909.2008.00309.x.

A selective review of maternal sleep characteristics in the postpartum period.

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School of Nursing, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA 92182-4158, USA.



To determine the current knowledge of postpartum women's sleep patterns, sleep disturbances, consequences of sleep disturbances, and known strategies for prevention in order to provide best practice recommendations for health care providers.


A literature search from 1969 through February 2008 was conducted using the CINHL, Index of Allied Health Literature, Ovid, PsycINFO, and PubMed electronic databases in addition to reference lists from selected articles and other key references. Search terms included sleep, postpartum, sleep deprivation, and sleep disturbance.


A critical review of all relevant articles from the data sources was conducted with attention to the needs of postpartum women's sleep and implications for health care providers.


Literature was reviewed and organized into groups with similar characteristics.


An integrative review of the literature summarized the current state of research related to sleep alterations in postpartum women.


Postpartum women experience altered sleep patterns that may lead to sleep disturbances. The most common reasons for sleep disturbances are related to newborn sleep and feeding patterns. Although present, the relationships among sleep disturbance, fatigue, and depression in postpartum women lack clarity due to their ambiguous definitions and the variety of the studies conducted. Providers should encourage prenatal education that assists the couple in developing strategies for decreasing postpartum sleep deprivation. Alterations of in-hospital care and home care should be incorporated to improve the new family's sleep patterns.

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