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Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry

Print version ISSN 1516-4446On-line version ISSN 1809-452X


PIRES, Gabriel N.; TUFIK, Sergio  and  ANDERSEN, Monica L.. Effects of REM sleep restriction during pregnancy on rodent maternal behavior. Rev. Bras. Psiquiatr. [online]. 2015, vol.37, n.4, pp.303-309.  Epub Sep 15, 2015. ISSN 1809-452X.


To evaluate the effects of sleep restriction during pregnancy on maternal care and maternal aggression in a rodent model.


Twenty-three female Wistar rats were assigned to one of two groups: control (n=12) or sleep restriction (n=11) during the entire pregnancy. At the fifth postpartum day, the animals were subjected to the resident-intruder paradigm and to the pup retrieval test.


Sleep restriction during pregnancy had no direct effects on maternal care. Regarding aggressive behavior, defensive aggression was increased by sleep loss, with a lower responsiveness threshold to hostile environmental stimuli. Sleep deprivation during gestation also reduced self-grooming behavior.


Taking increased self-grooming as a behavioral correlate of anxiety in rodents, this study provides evidence that lactating dams were in a condition of reduced anxiety. From an adaptive perspective, this pattern of stress response may function to ensure proper maternal behavior, thereby guaranteeing the survival and viability of the litter. Under a translational perspective, the present article confronts the importance of biological and adaptive features to rodent maternal behavior with the relevance of sociocultural factors to the human mother-infant relationship and to the onset of postpartum depression.

Keywords : Aggression; postpartum; pregnancy; sleep restriction; sleep.

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