The Role of Meeting Exercise and Nutrition Guidelines on Sleep during Pregnancy

Traci A. McCarthy, Sarah M. Velez, Jennifer F. Buckman, Andrea M. Spaeth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sleep disturbances are common during pregnancy. This study determined whether meeting physical activity or dietary guidelines during pregnancy was associated with improved sleep. Third trimester pregnant women (n = 49, 31.9 ± 4.1 years) completed physical activity and sleep questionnaires and then wore a wrist actigraph 24 h/day and completed three 24 h dietary recalls across two weeks. Participants who reported meeting physical activity guidelines (>150 min moderate-to-vigorous physical activity [MVPA]/week, n = 23) or dietary guidelines (≥1.1 g protein/kg body weight/day, n = 26 or ≥25 g fiber/day, n = 16) were compared to those who were physically inactive (<90 min/week) or did not meet dietary guidelines, respectively. Multivariate ANOVAs and Mann–Whitney U tests compared groups and correlations were conducted between physical activity, diet, and sleep variables. Physical activity groups did not differ in objective sleep measures (ps > 0.05); however, the active group reported better sleep quality (p = 0.049). Those who met protein guidelines exhibited longer sleep duration and less wake-after-sleep-onset (ps < 0.05). Across all participants, higher weekly MET mins/week of MVPA associated with better sleep quality (p = 0.02), and a diet higher in fat and lower in carbohydrates associated with longer sleep duration (ps < 0.05). Meeting physical activity and nutrition guidelines positively associates with improved sleep, with protein associated with objective measures and physical activity with subjective measures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4213
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


  • exercise
  • nutrition
  • perinatal
  • sleep
  • women’s health


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