Written on 14 August 2018
Pregnancy is one of the most beautiful phases in a woman’s life but it comes with its own share of anxieties and problems. This is the time when most of the pregnant women experience serious changes in their sleep patterns. According to a survey by the National Sleep Foundation, 78% of women deal with irregularity in sleep patterns. Unfortunately, the prevalence of sleep disorders, growing emotional demands and the ongoing process of physical changes is obviously very tiring for pregnant women.
What are the Reasons for Changes in Sleep Patterns During Pregnancy?
The main reasons of sleep disturbance during pregnancy are :
Dramatic change in hormone levels : The increased levels of progesterone hormone causes increase in daytime sleepiness.
The inhibitory effect of hormonal changes on the muscles leads to snoring. It also increases the risk of sleep apnea in obese women.
Increased bathroom trips, nausea, related interruptions and other common pregnancy discomforts also result in disturbed sleep.
Fear and anxiety about labor, motherhood, changing relationships with partners are also some of the reasons for sleep disorders during pregnancy.
What are the Main Sleep Problems Related to Pregnancy?
The most common pregnancy related sleep problems are:
Insomnia – Facing difficulty in falling asleep, staying awake, waking up too early and feeling tired are the main symptoms of insomnia.
Nocturnal gastroesophageal reflux (nighttime GERD) – GERD, or in simple words heartburn, is common during pregnancy. But nighttime GERD is the main reason for disruption in sleep during pregnancy.
Restless leg syndrome (RLS) – The achy, creepy or tingly feelings in the legs are the main symptoms of RLS that can cause sleep disturbance during pregnancy.
Sleep apnea – Continuous interruptions in breathing like heavy snoring, long pauses, and choking during sleep are the main symptoms of sleep apnea.
How to Cope With Disturbed Sleep During Pregnancy?
Following simple tips from the first trimester of your pregnancy can help in reducing the loss of sleep:
Always sleep on your left side. This improves the blood flow and nutrient supply to your fetus.
You can lie on your back but you must avoid doing it for a longer period of time.
Drinking lots of fluids is good but do it in daytime. More fluids during the night will result in more washroom visits.
Skip eating acidic, spicy and fried foods to avoid heartburn and acidity during night time.
Remain active during the daytime. Practice mild exercise or yoga for at least 30 minutes in a day if your doctor hasn't suggested against it
Lying in bed won’t help if you can’t sleep. Indulge in some creative work or read your favorite book.
Daytime naps are good and necessary too, but plan them earlier in the day.
Always lie on your left side. Keep your hips and knees bent. Place good, soft, fluffy and large pregnancy pillows between your knees and behind your back. You also need to place pillows under your abdomen. For this, you can make use of a pregnancy pillow, which is specially designed to provide you adequate support and comfort to your body.
Sleep problems are common during pregnancy but that doesn’t mean that you should not do anything about them. To ensure good health and proper development of your baby and to minimize the pregnancy fatigue, you must plan and prioritize your sleep.
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