Pregnancy and Sleep

“Pregnancy-associated sleep disorder” is recognized by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine as being a very common problem. In fact, it occurs in most pregnant women. For some, it means excessive insomnia and for others it means increased sleepiness regardless of how well the mother-to-be slept the night before. It is not uncommon for a woman to suffer from both problems during her pregnancy. With the onset of pregnancy, excessive sleepiness and the sensation that “I have been ‘zapped’ of my energy” is frequently encountered. As the pregnancy progresses, severe insomnia can take hold.

 

The first trimester is frequently associated with the need for daytime naps. Improved sleep and the subsequent improvement of well-being often accompanies the second trimester. Towards the end of this trimester and until delivery, insomnia is the most prevalent sleep complaint.

 

The initial sense of sleepiness and exhaustion is likely related to the hormonal changes that have started with conception. Subsequent insomnia is more likely related to difficulties with rolling over without awakening, increased frequency of nighttime urination, pain syndromes (low back pain is  perhaps the most common), and feeling the baby kick.

 

Poor sleep is often associated with reduced concentration, increased irritability, apathy, and general moodiness. This of course increases the risk of developing depressive and anxiety disorders. It is for these reasons that sleep related complaints need to be recognized and treated during pregnancy. Listed below are several tips for better sleep.

 

• Keep the bedroom cool. Our biologic clock triggers sleep when our core body

  temperature is at its lowest.

• Remove the TV, computer and other distractions from the bedroom.

• When insomnia is the main issue, avoid daytime naps. Even naps as short as      

  twenty minutes can sabotage the chances of a good nights sleep.

• If excessive sleepiness is the problem, then a twenty minute nap can be very

  refreshing.

• Keep the bedroom dark, quiet and comfortable.

• Invest in a good mattress and quality bedding.

• Consider reading a self help book on sleep disorders.

• Void before bedtime.