Pre-sleep arousal contributes to over 50% of pregnant people experiencing poor sleep quality and clinical insomnia. Given that poor sleep during pregnancy is associated with depression and suicide ideation, there is a critical need to identify intervention targets, such as difficulties with emotion regulation. However, emotion dysregulation is multifaceted and warrants further investigation in sleep research, particularly during pregnancy. Thus, the present study examined associations among pre-sleep arousal, various dimensions of emotion dysregulation, and sleep outcomes during pregnancy.
Participants (N = 62; Mage = 29.89, SD = 4.19 years) were recruited during pregnancy and enrolled to represent a range of scores on the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale. For 7 days during the 3rd trimester, they wore CamNtech MotionWatch-8 wrist actigraphs and completed the Pre-Sleep Arousal Scale and Consensus Sleep Diary.
Hierarchical linear regression analyses indicated that high pre-sleep arousal predicted low sleep efficiency (measured via actigraphy) above and beyond facets of emotion dysregulation (B = -.316, p = .026). High pre-sleep arousal also predicted poor sleep quality (measured via diary) above and beyond total emotion dysregulation (B = -.038, p = .010). However, an interaction emerged between pre-sleep arousal and one particular facet of emotion dysregulation: access to emotion regulation strategies (B = -.005, p = .023). Specifically, high pre-sleep arousal was associated with poor sleep quality only among those who reported limited abilities to use emotion regulation strategies. Among participants who reported that they could access effective emotion regulation strategies, pre-sleep arousal did not predict sleep quality.
This study indicates that high pre-sleep arousal may not always be associated with poor sleep quality during pregnancy. Equipping pregnant people with emotion regulation strategies may buffer this association and promote long-term health. It is recommended that perinatal sleep scientists continue investigating relations between facets of emotion dysregulation and sleep.
Support (If Any)
This project was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health under Awards R01MH119070 (MPIs Crowell & Conradt) and F31MH124275 (PI Kaliush). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIMH.