You’re not alone if you’re struggling with sleep while pregnant. In fact, a study found that by the end of pregnancy 97.3 percent of women were waking up an average of 3.11 times during the night. That leads to a lot of distributed sleep cycles and means fewer periods of deep sleep. Getting up in the morning tired, cranky, sore and frustrated from yet another uncomfortable night’s sleep can be overwhelming for a lot of expectant mothers, regardless of how far along you are.
While the changes mostly come from the fluctuation in the hormones, it is essential to note that the symptoms vary from one woman to another. Again, lots of other factors determine the quality of sleep other than pregnancy. This article delves deep into the changes in sleep during pregnancy, the various causes and ways to help you catch those elusive ZZZ’s during pregnancy.
3 Prominent Causes of Sleeplessness During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, progesterone levels get higher than usual which explains the excessive need to sleep during the day. This is common in the first trimester as the body is trying to adopt the widespread changes. Changes in hormonal levels can also affect the muscles which partly cause the frequent urge to pee at night. Such changes together with pregnancy-related discomfort can lead to loss of sleep.
Another factor that contributes to the loss of sleep is the anxiety of labor, delivery and how to balance between work and baby. This is common for first-time moms that are afraid of the changing relationship with their partner and the entire environment. Try do some relaxing techniques just before bed-time, take a warm shower or listen to some soothing music. If anxiety is interfering with your sleep, avoid late night TV watching and any stimulants like caffeine.
Sleep disorders can be made worse by pregnancy. Also, some women are at a higher risk of developing these disorders during pregnancy than at any other time. A good example is sleep apnea which is characterized by breathing interruptions during sleep. Some pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia or low birth weight can relate to sleep apnea. Women with sleep apnea tend to sleep more during the day while pregnant than other times. Here are some of the sleep disorders and the symptoms that may occur while pregnant.
5 Major Sleep Disorders You May Face While Pregnant
- Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) – This shows symptoms such as unpleasant feelings in the legs whereby a pregnant woman may experience tired leg muscles. The feeling gets worse towards bedtime, but a little stretching helps.
- Insomnia– This condition manifests as difficulty to fall asleep or remaining asleep throughout the night. The condition is related to stress, anxiety, and some pregnancy discomfort.
- Sleep apnea– as mentioned this is a disorder whereby breathing is interrupted during sleep which can manifest as snoring and frequent gasping during sleep.
- GERD– This is one of the common conditions during pregnancy. It is characterized by phases of heartburn. If it is frequent at night, it could cost you quality sleep.
- Frequent urge to urinate at night can also lead to sleep loss especially in the first trimester.
9 Ways To Help You Sleep Better During Pregnancy
Solving sleeping problems during pregnancy with drugs can be quite challenging in that the medication could harm the developing baby. However, some practices can help reduce the symptoms and possibly alleviate it completely. For example, keeping a proper sleep routine can help manage insomnia during pregnancy. Here are our top 9 ways to help you to better slumber.
Some expectant mothers experience a strange restless sensation in their legs causing them to jerk while asleep and causing them to wake up. Not to mention the painful cramps that can strike at any time during the night.
But to relieve RLS, medication can pose a risk to the developing fetus and so highly discouraged. Keeping hydrated throughout the day can help with leg cramps. Also, women that suffer from this are known to have low levels of folate or iron. Ensure you’re taking these vital minerals from a natal supplement. Alternatively, you could consider including iron-rich foods in the diet.
Folate is also best absorbed in the form of foods than in a pill form. Some folate-rich foods include whole grains and cereals. More to this, you ought to add vitamin C to your diet which helps in the absorption of folate.
Try also to wiggle your feet throughout the day to flex your calf muscles and get your partner to give you leg massages!
The environment around you could also be a primary cause of lack of sleep. It is essential to ensure you create a favorable environment for quality rest. One of the ways would be to make sure your bedding is lightweight, comfortable and hypoallergenic. Also, consider using a pregnancy pillow to add on to the comfort as you sleep. It gets your body in a very comfortable position and can be tucked in under your belly and between your legs. Many women swear by them as being the best way to help fall asleep while pregnant not to mention that it reduces lower back and hip pain which is another contributing factor to a poor night’s sleep.
MORE: 4 best pregnancy pillows
Sleep On Your Left Side
Whether you’re a natural tummy or back sleeper, doctors and other medical professionals recommend women sleep on their left side citing health benefit reasons for both baby and the mom. Plus it will also help you sleep better during your term. Sleeping on your side improves blood flow and nutrients to the placenta and encourages kidneys to eliminate waste more effectively.
White Noise Machine
Another consideration would be to stay away from distractions that would cost you precious sleep. If this is not possible, you could consider using a white noise machine to mask the noises in the background. This could help create a calming environment for you to sleep through the night. Plus this will come in handy later on to help keep your baby asleep.
Due to a surge in progesterone levels, many expectant mothers experience hot flushes which interferes with sleep during pregnancy. Wearing breathable cotton nightwear can help make a difference towards falling asleep. Consider also, sleeping on cool sheets, using lightweight comforters or a blanket and avoid memory foam toppers that aren’t designed to sleep cool.
“Sleepy” Nighttime Snacks
If you’re a late night snacker (who isn’t), a light snack just before bed time is actually not a bad idea. Aim for a mix of protein and complex carbs like a banana and a glass of warm milk or a wholegrain peanut butter toast.
Increased blood flow during pregnancy causes every to swell, including nasal passages so you may be snoring more than you ever did, especially during your first trimester which can disrupt the quality of sleep for you and your partner. This is exacerbates later in the pregnancy with any excess weight gain and make snoring so severe it can literally wake you up. Using a humidifier or sleeping with your window open (when the weather permits) can help you sleep better at night and alleviate swollen sinus passages.
During the first trimester women experience excess stomach acid built up causing uncomfortable heartburn during the night which can be disruptive to sleep. Avoid spicy, fried and acidic foods (tomatoes, citrus fruits etc.) and try to avoid eating a heavy meal for up to three hours before bed time.
Cut Down Your Fluids From 5pm
Frequent bathroom visits are a sure thing to a poor night’s sleep. Pregnant women are certainly more susceptible to night-time bathroom visits since the growing uterus puts pressure on the bladder.
To help with this, reduce your liquid intake after 5 pm and avoid drinking anything at all in the two hours leading up to bedtime. Make you you also fully empty your bladder before getting ready for bed (hint: leaning forward will assist with this).
Another key tip to improve the quality of your sleep during pregnancy is to disconnect your devices before bedtime.
Pregnancy and sleep show a significant interrelationship which is attributed to the massive changes that the body takes during pregnancy. While it can be a challenge, a few practices can help you sleep better during this period. Most importantly, you should consider adopting a healthy lifestyle and having a bedtime routine for better rest. Finally, if your schedule allows it, have a power nap during the day, it will help you keep you rested and less tired. Remember, the important thing with sleep is quality, not quantity.