Many women find that sleep evades them during their pregnancies. Anxiety, physical discomfort, and changing hormones make sleeping difficult when you're an expecting mother. An estimated 50 percent of pregnant women experience insomnia. However, research makes it clear that it is vital that pregnant women get enough sleep.
In this article, we will examine why sleep changes during pregnancy. We'll share tips on the best sleeping positions during pregnancy, look at common sleep problems pregnant women encounter, and investigate the best sleep hygiene practices that can be practiced during pregnancy.
Why Is Sleep Different During Pregnancy?
There are various reasons why an expecting mother may find sleep challenging to find during pregnancy. Some of these reasons include:
- Frequent need to urinate.
- Vomiting or nausea.
- Lower back pain.
- Tenderness of the breast.
- Uncomfortable abdominal pain.
- Leg cramp.
- Shortness of breath.
- Dreams of vivid colours.
- Anxiety about having a baby may also cause sleepless nights .
- During the third trimester, a number of pregnant women experience vivid, disturbing dreams that further impair sleep quality.
Pregnant women are likely to experience a few of the above symptoms, but sometimes they are due to sleep disorders. Symptoms of sleep disorders can lead to further difficulties later on for the mother or child, so let your doctor know if you are having any problems.
Problems and Sleep Disorders Associated with Pregnancy
There are three primary sleep disorders that tend to occur during pregnancy, and they are obstructive sleep apnea, gastroesophageal reflux disorder, and restless legs syndrome.
1. Obstructive Sleep Apnea
As a result of gaining weight and having nasal congestion during pregnancy, women will be more likely to snore, increasing the risk of high blood pressure.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a sleep disorder characterised by snoring, gasping, and repeated lapses in breathing that disrupt sleep quality. It can harm the fetus by impairing oxygen delivery, as well as increase the risk of preeclampsia and cesarean sections. Approximately one in five pregnant women may suffer from this condition.
2. Restless Legs Syndrome
RLS refers to feelings of crawling, tickling, and itching that cause people to feel an irresistible urge to move their legs. When the individual is at rest, the symptoms become more severe, making it difficult to fall asleep. RLS affects one-third of pregnant women in their third trimester.
3. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disorder
This condition causes an uncomfortable burning sensation in the esophagus, especially when you're lying down. Pregnant women of all trimesters may suffer from this condition, and it is believed to affect one-quarter of women in their first trimester and as many as half in their third trimester. Over time, gastroesophageal reflux disease can also damage the esophagus.
Treatment for Sleep Disorders During Pregnancy
Pregnant women can reduce sleep problems in a number of ways. Sleep hygiene and adjusting sleeping positions are two of the most effective strategies for this, and we will discuss them below. In addition, there are certain therapies that have proven effective for treating sleep disorders. They include:
- Antacids for GERD
- Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) for OSA
- Vitamin and mineral supplements for RLS.
Please, note that the developing fetus may be at risk from some substances, so you should always consult your doctor before taking any medication or herbal remedy to aid in sleep.
Sleep Hygiene During Pregnancy
Sleep hygiene is crucial during pregnancy and cannot be overstated. In addition to sleep aids such as specialised pillows or eye masks, these habits can transform your sleep life and improve your health. They include:
- Sleep in a cool, dark, quiet bedroom, and use the bed only for sleeping and sex.
- Sleep is a priority. Set a consistent bedtime and schedule naps earlier in the day, so they won't interfere with your nighttime sleep.
- Take a bath, read a book, or indulge in another calming activity before going to bed.
- Use a nightlight after a bathroom break to help you get back to sleep.
- To reduce the risk of GERD, you should avoid caffeine, spicy foods, and heavy meals too close to bedtime.
- Before going to bed, turn off all screens and refrain from using technology in the bedroom.
- Start your day with regular exercise.
- To minimise nighttime bathroom breaks, drink plenty of water throughout the day and reduce liquid intake before bed.
- Get out of bed to do something else until you feel sleepy if you can't sleep.
- When you are feeling stressed, journal your thoughts, or talk to your partner, friends, doctor, or attend childbirth classes.
Best Sleeping Positions for Pregnancy
During pregnancy, it is best to sleep on the left side with the legs slightly curled. In this position, blood flows to the heart, kidneys, and uterus, assisting in providing oxygen and nutrients to the growing fetus. Even though it is less ideal than sleeping on the left side during pregnancy, sleeping on the right side is also acceptable.
For short durations pregnant women may sleep on their back, but it is best avoided. Experts recommend that pregnant women avoid back sleeping because they can suffer from back pain and vena cava pressure as they sleep on their backs. One of the body's principal veins, the vena cava, can interfere with blood flow and result in dizziness. As for sleeping on the stomach, when a pregnancy bump reaches a certain size, it becomes impractical to sleep on the stomach.
How Can We Help?
Sleep hygiene during pregnancy includes getting sleeping materials such as beddings and mattresses that enhance the quality of sleep. Our Cooling Bamboo Bedding Set is an example of a sleeping material that is designed to ensure blissful sleep.