Pregnancy and new parenthood is an exciting time, but also a stressful life event that can predispose to mental health challenges. Perinatal anxiety is one such challenge, and is an important contributor to parental distress and other negative outcomes. Sleep and biological rhythms are often disrupted in the perinatal period. These disruptions have been associated with postpartum depression, and in some cases with perinatal anxiety. However, the literature concerning the association with perinatal anxiety is inconsistent and may be methodologically limited. To our knowledge, there has been no comprehensive review published characterising the relationships between sleep, biological rhythms, and perinatal anxiety and related disorders to date. In this systematic review, we will summarise the current state of the literature concerning these relationships, allowing us to highlight gaps and potentially inform clinical understanding of perinatal anxiety, sleep and biological rhythms.
Methods and analysis
Primary research articles will be eligible for inclusion if they assess perinatal anxiety or related disorders using validated criteria (self-report or diagnostic), assess sleep and biological rhythms in the perinatal period, include >4 participants and meet other inclusion/exclusion criteria. We will conduct comprehensive searches of MEDLINE, PsycINFO, Embase and CINAHL, with coverage spanning from database conception to search date (August 1, 2021). Key search concepts include (1) the perinatal period, (2) sleep/biological rhythms and (3) anxiety. Risk of bias will be evaluated using the Cochrane Risk of Bias Tool. Data will be narratively synthesised, with quantitative synthesis included if possible. When relevant, strength of evidence will be assessed using Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation criteria, and potential publication bias will be assessed.
Ethics and dissemination
Research ethics approval is not required. Study results will be reported according to Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. Results will be disseminated to relevant stakeholders as conference presentation(s) and submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.
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