Postpartum fatigue, daytime sleepiness, and psychomotor vigilance are modifiable through a brief residential early parenting program

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Objective/Background: In the months after childbirth, women are vulnerable to sleep disturbances and sleep-related deficits in functioning, such as fatigue, daytime sleepiness, and attentional lapses. Currently there is limited evidence that these deficits are modifiable. Using both self-report and objective measures, this study examined changes in sleep-related daytime functioning among women attending a residential early parenting program for assistance with unsettled infant behavior and mild to moderate postpartum distress. Methods: Participants were 78 women (age M = 34.16, SD = 4.16 years) attending a five-day program with their infants (age M = 8.67, SD = 4.82 months). Sleep was assessed via self-report. Sleep-related daytime functioning was operationalized as fatigue, sleepiness, and sustained attention, and measured using validated questionnaires (all women) and the 10-min visual Psychomotor Vigilance Test (PVT; subgroup of 47 women). All measures were administered on both admission (baseline) and discharge. Results: On admission, participants reported elevated sleep disturbance (94%), fatigue (91%), as well as trait (54%) and state (67%) sleepiness. From admission to discharge, there were medium effect size reductions in fatigue and sleepiness, and large effect size improvements in sleep quality related domains such as increased sleep efficiency and reduced nighttime awakenings (all p < 0.001); changes in total sleep time were nonsignificant (p = 0.22). PVT reciprocal mean reaction times were also significantly faster (p = 0.001; medium effect size). Conclusions: This study demonstrated that among women attending a brief residential early parenting program, fatigue, daytime sleepiness, and objectively measured psychomotor vigilance can be improved. Implications for further research and potential treatments are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-41
Number of pages9
JournalSleep Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019


  • Fatigue
  • Postnatal
  • Postpartum
  • Psychomotor vigilance test
  • Sleep
  • Sleepiness

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