Countering Sleep Disturbances During Pregnancy
Moms are used to sleepless nights when their little ones finally come home. However, what many don’t know is that sleep deprivation is prevalent during pregnancy.
In fact, a National Sleep Foundation poll called Women and Sleep determined that 78% of the respondents reported poorer sleep during pregnancy than any other time. Women also reported feeling more fatigued during their pregnancies, specifically during the first and third trimesters.
With the all-nighters coming in as early as the first trimester, you’ll want to do what you can to keep conditions ideal for a good night’s rest. That said, here are some common causes of sleep disturbances and simple measures to counter them.
Generally, expect fatigue to hit hard during the first trimester because of the increase in the hormone progesterone. Your body also tends to tire easily as it undergoes the gestation process, which means you’ll be sharing energy with your fetus. Below are other causes of sleep disturbances during the first trimester.
- Frequent Urination
Your uterus pushes against your bladder as your baby grows, leading to an unfavorable increase in bathroom breaks.
Avoid drinking fluids after 6 PM. Reducing liquid intake a few hours before bedtime reduces bathroom frequency; it also helps if you go to the bathroom before sleeping.
- Body Aches
Body aches seem to be abundant during pregnancy. Your breasts will swell and you will experience pelvic cramps, as well as other random body pains.
Pain medication is a no-no unless suggested by your doctor. However, try to exercise or engage in physical activity early in the day. Good workouts (as well as being physically tired!) promote deep sleep. Ask your doctor what type of exercise is allowed.
Nausea during pregnancy isn’t time-sensitive, so expect it to hit even at ungodly hours – even during nighttime when you’re trying to sleep.
Keep saltine crackers ready. Crackers have high starch content that helps absorb stomach acid.
The second trimester is often defined as the easiest phase of pregnancy. However, while this trimester is when you’ll get the most sleep, you won’t quite be free of nighttime challenges yet.
As your baby grows, it now puts pressure on your stomach. This pushes the acid from the stomach up into the esophagus, which causes heartburn. Lying down makes it worse.
Digestion takes longer during pregnancy, so speed up the process by staying upright after dinner. Sit up while watching TV or read a book for a few hours, while seated before lying down. Also, avoid spicy, fried, and acidic food, such as tomatoes, and citrus fruits, among others.
- Leg Cramps
While the exact cause of leg cramps during pregnancy isn’t determined, they can very well cut into your sleep time.
Avoid carbonated beverages as they weaken your ability to metabolize calcium, and an imbalance in calcium can lead to cramps. At the same time, go for calcium-rich food such as pasteurized dairy products and dark, leafy vegetables.
With much to consider, thoughts tend to race through pregnant women’s minds till the wee hours of the night. When they do find solace in slumber, the stress and anxiety can morph into vivid nightmares.
Engage in calming techniques like listening to soothing music or reading a book. Feeling anxious is unavoidable, but there are exercises to help put you in an easier state of mind. Meditation and yoga are great exercises for this.
Expect nighttime turbulence to spike back up during the final trimester. You may wake up more times a night during this stretch compared to the first trimester. The following are the common sleep disturbances during the third trimester:
- Back Pain
Majority of women experience back pain at this stage due to the extra weight they are carrying, as this is the point in pregnancy where they are at their largest.
Lying on your back may induce snoring and cut off a little circulation to your unborn baby. To avoid this, simply sleep on your side and add pillows if it makes you more comfortable. If snoring persists, see a specialist and have your airflow monitored.
- Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)
Some women experience Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS), where they feel like insects are crawling on their legs. Those lacking in iron and folate are more susceptible to this syndrome.
Evening walks and light leg massages help with RLS. Include lots of fortified grains, and dark leafy greens in your diet to make up for the iron and folate deficiency.
Extra Tips for a Better Sleep
- Unless otherwise advised by your doctor, exercise for at least 30 minutes everyday.
- If you can’t sleep, don’t force it. Get up and do something away from the bedroom. You don’t want to associate your sleep space with stress.
- Nap early during daytime or between 2 PM and 4 PM. Try to take one or two 30-minute naps rather than hour-long naps, as longer naps may interfere with nighttime sleep.
For more information and EQ support, feel free to ask our experts here.