Pregnancy and Sleeping Problems:-Women are blessed with the unique gift of procreation. The entire period of pregnancy entails a roller coaster of emotional highs and lows for the new mom-to-be. Besides the joy and anticipation that accompanies the pregnancy phase, there are several woes that coexist as well. This is primarily due to the ever-changing levels of hormones in a pregnant woman’s system.
Several discomforts are associated with this beautiful journey of motherhood such as nausea, morning sickness, swollen feet, fatigue, heartburn and sleep disturbances being some of them. However, holding their little bundle of joy after all the discomforts is what matters the most. Hence, it is essential to smoothen this ride by staying aware and being prepared for all unpleasant situations that might come across your way.
Consequences of Poor Sleep During Pregnancy
Persistent sleeping troubles can affect pregnant women in various ways. Insufficient sleep duration and disturbed sleeping patterns in an expectant mother can lead to:
- Depleted levels of concentration
- Daytime drowsiness
- Mood disorders
- Sleeping disorders that can affect your blood pressure, blood sugar and even heart health
- Gestational diabetes
- Compromised growth of the fetus
- Decreased flow of blood to the placenta
- Increased duration of labor
According to a study, pregnant women sleeping less than 6 hours were 4.5 times more likely to give childbirth by a C section delivery after experiencing labor pains for 10 hours or more as compared to expectant mothers sleeping 7 hours or more.
Considering the consequences of poor sleep on both the mother and the child, it is recommended that a pregnant female spend at least 8 hours in bed so as to get around 7 hours of sound sleep.
Why Do Pregnant Women Experience Sleeping Problems?
Pregnant women tend to experience a sharp decrease in the quality and quantity of their sleep. Researchers opine that changes in the sleeping behavior of expectant mothers can be accredited to the altering levels of hormones in their bodies. Bearing a child can be emotionally and physically draining for the expectant mother and spending sleepless nights adds to the misery.
Several women report sleep deprivation and extreme fatigue during the first and third trimesters of their pregnancy. During the first 3 months of pregnancy, women are bound to experience interrupted sleep during the night, increased daytime drowsiness and increased fatigue owing to the developing fetus and the surge in the levels of the progesterone hormone. The sleep disturbances are further aggravated during the third trimester due to the growing belly which makes it difficult for them to sleep in a comfortable position. Aside from hormones playing a major role, several other physiological factors contribute to the disturbed sleeping patterns experienced by pregnant females.
There are several pressing reasons that prevent an expectant mother from getting enough shut eye. These include:
- Your kidneys work extra hard when you are pregnant to keep your blood purified which produces an increased amount of urine. The developing fetus in the uterus also puts pressure on the bladder which results in an increased urge to empty it. An increased tendency to urinate arises during pregnancy which robs you of a good night’s sleep.
- The queasy sensation of nausea and morning sickness that grips pregnant females is also a deterrent to sleep.
- Experiencing back pain, body aches and pressure on the diaphragm.
- The developing fetus which results in a growing belly affects the sleeping posture of the mother-to-be which in renders her sleep deprived.
- Increased secretion of estrogen during the third trimester which causes rhinitis (swelling of the nasal tissue), leading to snoring and obstructive sleep apnea – both adversely affecting the quality of sleep in a pregnant female
- Restless Legs Syndrome, a condition associated with pregnancy is likely to act as a hurdle when it comes to a sound sleep.
- During pregnancy, the digestive system of the body may not function well enough resulting in gastrointestinal discomforts such as heartburn, and constipation. This may lead to sleeping troubles for a mother-to-be.
- The stress of the overall pregnancy, anxiety, hormonal fluctuations, and emotional turmoil of stepping into motherhood particularly for first time mothers, can also lead to a significant loss of sleep in a pregnant female.
Also Read:- Debunking The Myths About Sleep
Tips to Manage Sleeping Problems During Pregnancy
Since sleep plays a very important role in building physical, emotional and social well-being of humans, it becomes all the more important for pregnant females to prioritize on their sleep. The struggle to sleep well during pregnancy is real and hence requires coping mechanisms to help you sleep better.
Let us now reflect upon a few strategies to help manage sleeping problems in pregnant females.
- Give your sleep its due importance.
- Avoid taking long naps during the daytime. Limit them to shorter durations.
- Try following a routine. Sleep and wake up at the same time so that you don’t interrupt your biological clock.
- Engage in light physical exercises as recommended by your health professional to stay physically active.
- Keep yourself hydrated. However, avoid drinking excess water and diuretic fluids like tea or coffee close to bedtime.
- Get yourself checked regularly to rule the possibility of any vitamin or mineral deficiency. Also, get your vitals checked on a regular basis.
- If you are not able to sleep, try reading a book, listening to some soft music, or engage yourself in something.
- Make sure to sleep on your left side by bending your hips and knees. Tuck some pillows in between your knees, behind your back and under the abdominal region to relieve the pressure off your lower back.
- Try changing your bedroom environment by dimming the lights, lowering the room temperature to optimum and keeping all electronic gadgets away from your sight.