For most mothers, pregnancy is an exciting, joyful time. However, there are instances where it can cause a few issues, and sleep deprivation can be one of them. Because of the many changes the body goes through while pregnant, hormonal and physical, it can lead to muscle problems, breathing problems and other discomforts. There are plenty of ways to treat and cope with these, so do not fear!
The following is a list of some of the pregnancy-related conditions that can occur to cause sleep loss:
Insomnia – This is the inability to fall asleep or to stay asleep for as long as desired. A study from 2012 showed over 50% of women were found to suffer from insomnia during their pregnancy. It can be caused by anxiety, or the natural occurrences in pregnancy, including nausea, back pain and foetal movement.
Sleep apnoea – This is a disorder in which breathing is briefly interrupted during sleep. This can either be caused by muscles at the back of the throat failing to keep the airway open, or the brain failing to properly control breathing during sleep. How is this related to pregnancy? Pregnancy can often cause weight gain, so any extra weight around the neck and throat narrows your airways. You are also more prone to snoring during pregnancy, which can make sleep apnoea more likely. This is due to extra hormones and an increased amount of blood in the body making the blood vessels in the nose expand.
Nocturnal gastroesophagal reflux (GERD) – More commonly known as heartburn, this is considered a normal part of pregnancy. However, at night the effects can be more severe as it can damage the oesophagus and disrupt sleep.
Frequent urination – This is commonly seen in pregnancy and can lead to a loss of sleep.
Coping with Sleep Loss
These symptoms may be worrying for expecting mothers, but there are many ways to make sure you get plenty of sleep.
Plan and prioritise your sleep. Set yourself a time to get to bed and this will eventually become a pattern that will be naturally included in your daily routine. Try to get sufficient exercise during the day too (at least 30 minutes), unless your doctor has advised against it. Also drink plenty of water during the day, but cut down before bedtime to stop frequent urination.
When it comes to lying in bed, sleeping on your left side can help improve blood flow which will reduce pain. You can also try bending your knees and hips and place pillows between your knees, under your abdomen and behind your back. This can take of the strain off your back. Also try to avoid lying on your back for extended periods of time. It also helps to have a comfortable bed, so it might be a good idea to invest in a new one if your current bed has caused you trouble before. If you really can’t sleep, don’t force yourself. Get up and do something, like reading a book or taking a warm bath.