Study Information

Studying sleep apnea in pregnancy

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that affects the quality of your sleep and your daytime functioning. Normally during sleep, air moves through the throat and in and out of the lungs at a regular rhythm. In a person with sleep apnea, air movement is periodically diminished or stopped. In obstructive sleep apnea, breathing is abnormal because of narrowing or closure of the throat.

Sleep apnea is common in pregnancy. About one out of five women who are overweight or report snoring will test positive for sleep apnea in pregnancy.

What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?

The symptoms of sleep apnea in women may not be the same as those in men. For women, symptoms may be mistaken for depression or other medical conditions.

Nighttime symptoms*

  • Frequent or loud snoring, gasping, or snorting sounds
  • Difficulty falling asleep, frequent awakenings
  • Restless sleep, changes in dreaming
  • Frequent bathroom visits at night
  • Nighttime heartburn

Daytime symptoms

  • Feeling tired, drained, or lacking energy
  • Feeling sleepy or falling asleep at the wrong time or place
  • Feeling depressed, anxious, or irritable
  • Forgetfulness, lack of focus

*some of these symptoms could be observed by a bed partner or roommate.

Sleep apnea is treatable.

The most commonly prescribed treatment for sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP.
Weight loss, adjusting sleep positions, and avoiding alcohol and other sedatives also can help.

Treatment of sleep apnea has been shown to help women sleep better and function better, both physically and mentally during the day.

More research is being done to understand the other possible health benefits of treatment.

What is the SLEEP Study?

The Maternal Fetal Medicine Units SLEEP Study is a study of the use of CPAP in pregnancy. The goal is to understand if using CPAP in pregnancy can help women have healthier pregnancies.

How do I know if I am eligible?

The first part of this study involves going home with a portable sleep monitor. Wearing this monitor for one night will let research staff see if you have sleep apnea.

If you test positive for mild or moderate sleep apnea, you will be eligible for a treatment trial in pregnancy.

What will I need to do if I participate in the study?

If you agree to participate in the trial, you will be randomly (like the flip of a coin) assigned to one of two groups:

  • Sleep advice and treatment with CPAP
  • Sleep advice only

If you are in the CPAP group, our research staff will teach you how to use and clean your machine, as well as how to track your usage. We will help you get used to sleeping with CPAP, and encourage you to sleep with it every night.

If you agree to participate in the trial, we will follow you throughout pregnancy and collect data on your prenatal care and delivery. We will also collect some blood samples during pregnancy. After pregnancy, you will complete a brief survey.

You will be compensated for your time and effort.

How do I learn more about this study?

If you are interested in learning more about the SLEEP Study, please call us at (401) 274-1122, extension 41533 or email

Research Team 

Dwight J. Rouse, MD, Principal Investigator
Women & Infants Hospital
Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine

Erika Werner, MD
Additional Investigator
Women & Infants Hospital
Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine

Donna Allard, RNC
MFMU Network Nurse Coordinator
Women & Infants Hospital

Research Nurses 

Jane Milano, BSN, RN
Janet Rousseau, BSN, RN

Contact Form

If you are interested in learning more about this study, please complete the form below. 

Women & Infants

Area of Study

Recruitment Status