Published online by Cambridge University Press: 07 July 2021
Sleep disturbance is common in gestational parents during pregnancy and postpartum periods. This study evaluated the feasibility and efficacy of a scalable cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) sleep intervention tailored for these periods.
This is a two-arm, parallel-group, single-blind, superiority randomised controlled trial. Nulliparous females without severe medical/psychiatric conditions were randomised 1:1 to CBT or attention- and time-matched control. All participants received a 1 h telephone session and automated multimedia emails from the third trimester until 6 months postpartum. Outcomes were assessed with validated instruments at gestation weeks 30 (baseline) and 35 (pregnancy endpoint), and postpartum months 1.5, 3, 6 (postpartum endpoint), 12 and 24.
In total, 163 eligible participants (age M ± s.d. = 33.35 ± 3.42) were randomised. The CBT intervention was well accepted, with no reported adverse effect. Intention-to-treat analyses showed that compared to control, receiving CBT was associated with lower insomnia severity and sleep disturbance (two primary outcomes), and lower sleep-related impairment at the pregnancy endpoint (p values ⩽ 0.001), as well as at 24 months postpartum (p ranges 0.012–0.052). Group differences across the first postpartum year were non-significant. Participants with elevated insomnia symptoms at baseline benefitted substantially more from CBT (v. control), including having significantly lower insomnia symptoms throughout the first postpartum year. Group differences in symptoms of depression or anxiety were non-significant.
A scalable CBT sleep intervention is efficacious in buffering against sleep disturbance during pregnancy and benefitted sleep at 2-year postpartum, especially for individuals with insomnia symptoms during pregnancy. The intervention holds promise for implementation into routine perinatal care.