Pregnancy & Sleep Problems

Pregnancy is often accompanied with a change to sleeping.  Evidently, one of the obstacles, particularly later on in the pregnancy, is finding a comfortable position to sleep in and the differing hormones that begin to take hold. It has also been found that over a quarter of pregnant women develop Restless Leg Syndrome during their pregnancy. Thus, as pregnancy will be a major change for women, physically, mentally and emotionally, it is important that sleep is achieved and a restful night accomplished.

Pregnancy is accompanied by a decrease in the amount of time spent asleep in slow-wave sleep, reduced to almost 1/5 of what a non-pregnant woman would experience. Thus, more dreaming, and often more vivid dreams are experienced as this is due to the increased amount of time spent in REM sleep. Problems with sleeping will tend to become more disruptive the further along the pregnancy is, which unfortunately coincides with the increased need for sleep. Women often find more disturbances in the night to urinate and increased movement of the baby in the womb. It also quite common for women to begin snoring during pregnancy and whilst this is common and not necessarily an issue; if the snoring becomes increasingly frequent or accompanied by gasps and shortness in breath, then this will need assessing by a doctor. Possible explanations include obstructive sleep apnea.

To ensure as peaceful and restful night as possible, try the following:

  • If you are struggling to sleep at night, sleep when can, so you do not suffer from sleep deprivation. Schedule some naps into your day but try and avoid napping too closely to your bedtime.
  • Ensure you are obtaining all the right vitamins, particularly Iron.
  • Maintain a healthy weight and continue exercise.
  • Sleeping on your side may be the most comfortable position and will help the flow of blood to your kidneys, uterus and foetus and help prevent swelling of the ankles.
  • Try and reduce the amount of liquid consumed near to your bedtime as this will hopefully reduce the chances of you needing the toilet during the night.
  • Try sleeping with a pillow between your knees, keeping your knees and hips bent – this will reduce the pressure on your lower back.
  • Avoid big meals and possibly spicy, fatty foods at the start of your pregnancy to reduce nausea.

If you do find that you are increasingly struggling to sleep at night, then it is important that having monitored your sleeping patterns, and having an awareness of what disruptions are occurring, you pay your doctor a visit.

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