A local study has found that sleeping less than six hours each night increases the risk of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) in pregnant women.

Assoc Prof Joshua Gooley from Duke-NUS Medical School and Dr Chai Shirong from NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine found that the frequency of GDM was highest (27.3%) in women who sleep less than six hours each night, and was lowest (16.8%) in those who sleep between seven to eight hours.

The results are consistent with findings in non-pregnant populations and also with studies done in Caucasian and African-American pregnant women.

"Our results raise the possibility that good sleep habits could reduce the likelihood of developing hyperglycemia and GDM," said senior author Assoc Prof Joshua Gooley.

Dr Cai Shirong, first author of the study, added, "Additional studies are needed to assess the contribution of other modifiable lifestyle factors to GDM risk."

The study was published in the journal SLEEP. Participants are part of GUSTO (Growing Up in Singapore Towards Healthy Outcomes), a Singapore-based long-term study that seeks to determine effects of maternal health and lifestyle on growth outcomes of children.