Are you pregnant and having difficulties with your sleep? Check out our pregnancy sleep guide to find some useful advice on how to get better rest.
Every woman who has been pregnant can confirm that pregnancy is the most interesting period of their life’s and not for the reasons you might think. Sure, having kids is a life-changing experience, and it is incredible that you have a growing human inside of you, but also, you’ll experience a different version of yourself.
Unusual sensations and weird cravings will surprise you. For example, some women have an odd craving for pickles and marshmallows (and here we thought that PMS is strange), but hey my mother ate buttery bread and a lot of sugar on top when she had me, and she doesn’t even have a sweet tooth (maybe that’s why I do).
So, there are a lot of things to expect when you’re expecting, but we can all agree that sleep problems can be one of the most annoying ones. It’s enough that you have to deal with many changes but not having proper sleep can be too much. That is why it is essential to be informed about what is the role of sleep, what causes lack or too much sleep during pregnancy and best sleeping positions. Having the right information will help you feel a bit more at ease knowing that most of the things you are facing are quite normal.
The general role of sleep is to help your body and brain feel rested. In order for your brain cells to function normally, neurons need ninety minutes of sleep that is not interrupted. Also, not only does sleep boost your mood and immune system, but it also increases the growth hormone which is super important for pregnant ladies.
Growth hormone stimulates the growth of placenta and uterus which ensures that the baby is developing well despite tough and stressful times. The optimal sleep hours for women who are expecting varies (depending on the stage they are in) but less than six hours of sleep can cause their labor to be prolonged compared to women who slept seven or more hours. Lack of sleep can also cause a higher risk of c-section delivery.
A lot of physical symptoms that cause sleep disruptions are related to hormonal changes. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Pregnancy also has an impact on other hormones as well. For example, it increases melatonin and prolactin levels that cause deep sleep. Also, the increase of oxytocin can cause sleep disruptions during nighttime contractions.
Trimesters are the three stages of pregnancy. Starting with the first day since the menstrual cycle has ended and finalizing it with child delivery (after forty weeks).
The first twelve weeks are the beginning of the first trimester. During this time, progesterone will cause you to feel constantly without energy due to lack of sleep, and we can also partly blame the frequent urge to pee for that.
This occurs when the bladder becomes sluggish which can cause you to go to the bathroom during nighttime. In that case, it might be a good idea to refrain from drinking a lot of fluid before bedtime. Although it’s recommended to drink during the day as it prevents swelling and constipation which can cause discomfort during sleep.
Also, to ensure that you can fall asleep after your bathroom visit, it would be wise to use nightlight as it won’t disrupt the production of melatonin. The pressure of the bladder can also lead to vivid or lucid dreams which can make it harder for you to get a good rest.
Nausea can rob you of sleep because it can happen at any time be it morning or night. Most women prefer to eat salty snacks like crackers or pretzels, and cereal without milk before getting up in the morning.
Also, due to the tenderness of the breasts, it might be difficult for you to sleep on your stomach. Having hot flashes is quite common for this trimester. Buying a fan can help you sleep cooler and in peace, because white noise from the fan will mask all unpleasant noise, for example, if your partner is snoring. But, sometimes it is not your partner who is snoring; it is you. This can happen if you are an allergy-prone person or weigh more than average.
Insomnia symptoms in early pregnancy are quite common, and a hormone called progesterone has a big part in it. Progesterone can cause you to feel sleepy during the day, and that can disrupt your rest during the night. This can make you feel exhausted and can lead to some insomnia symptoms.
Whatever you do, you mustn’t take sleeping pills and supplements without consulting your doctor. The safest choice is to take short naps during the day to feel more rested.
As you get used to rapid changes during the first trimester, the second one might be easier because the changes of the hormones even out for a while, but they will start to change again in the third trimester (hormonal rollercoaster, I know).
During this time most women complain that they often feel leg cramps and if your iron levels are low, you might experience restless leg syndrome. This condition will make you feel like you have a burning or crawling sensation in your legs causing discomfort while laying or sitting.
Heartburn is a common symptom and can be alleviated by sleeping on the left side. Some recommend keeping your head elevated by adding a few extra pillows to prevent acid from going up.
If you have a higher blood pressure regardless of pregnancy, you might need to be cautious during your second trimester due to possible preeclampsia development. If you notice that you are experiencing constant headaches, nausea and urination decrease, you should consult your doctor for preventive measures.
In addition, if you had experienced lucid dreaming before it might occur again and is usually related to some anxieties regarding pregnancy and the baby itself. Meditation and relaxation can help you feel calmer before bed.
Brace yourself for the final round. Although you have already accustomed to strange behavior and changes, during this stage, you will probably wake up more often as the baby is bigger and more active. So, find a sleeping position that is the most comfortable, but it is advised to avoid back sleeping which can put you in a high risk of stillbirth.
Sleeping on the back will put the fetus in a position in which the oxygen is less consumed during sleep. This can cause low heart rate also known as fetal distress. Of course, this doesn’t mean that if you happen to sleep on your back once or twice your baby will automatically be harmed, but it is a disadvantageous position so, it should be avoided. The optimal position is the left side sleeping, putting pillows between your legs and knees. This position will promote better nutrient and blood flow to your baby as well as kidneys and uterus. Using body pillows is an effective way to minimize backpressure and relieve pain.
Due to nasal congestion and extra weight you might snore more often which can cause the development of sleep apnea. This can become a severe problem for pregnant women because lack of air can cause a rush of hormones that can be harmful to baby’s health. CPAP or continuous positive airway pressure is an effective and most importantly safe way to treat sleep apnea during pregnancy.
Here are some tips on how to get better sleep during pregnancy
Naturally, there will be times when you won’t be able to sleep. Instead of being annoyed or worried about it you can watch TV, read a book or a magazine, and do whatever else makes you happy (maybe some hobby you haven’t had time for). At some point, you’ll feel tired and sleepy, and you’ll go back to bed. Daytime naps (30 to 60 min) can be helpful to get more energy.
Don’t ever consider taking sleeping pills and if you are tempted, call your midwife, and she will advise you.