Pregnancy Insomnia – No booze but no snooze as well?
Your mom or your poky neighbour must have already informed you that you’re never going to sleep again once the baby arrives. So you should try to catch up on sleep as much as possible during the pregnancy right? You wish! What they didn’t tell you is it starts even before that. Let’s talk about something apart from sex that you might be missing out on during your pregnancy i.e. Pregnancy insomnia.
What is pregnancy insomnia?
Insomnia means having difficulty in falling asleep, staying asleep, or both. Women can experience insomnia throughout the pregnancy but it tends to be more frequent during the first and third trimester. Studies show that it is more common in women who have had uneven sleep cycles even before pregnancy. However, around 44.2% women go through insomnia during their first trimester. Hormonal changes in the first trimester being one of the primary reasons. A US study conducted in 1998 found out that 78% women reported insomnia during the third trimester of pregnancy. Insomnia is more likely to go worse as pregnancy progresses. It is said to hit an all time high during the third trimester, but hey, how did you anyway think about sleeping peacefully with that big belly attached with you. Having said that, every body is different and there us no fixed period of insomnia.
Does pregnancy insomnia mean you cannot sleep?
Pregnancy insomnia does not necessarily mean that a woman cannot fall asleep. The concern is staying asleep. Falling asleep could be as easy as it ever was, not waking up in the middle of the night and being able to drift back to sleep might not be. You could be waking up out of nowhere for entire weeks and having irregular sleeps and might even get migraines.
Sleep disturbances and changes in sleep cycle starts as early as the first trimester of pregnancy. It is most likely impacted by the swift changes in reproductive hormone levels. Progesterone levels spring up throughout the pregnancy, so much that at 36 weeks, the progesterone levels are at 10 times greater than tip menstrual cycle levels. Women tend to take more day-time naps during the first trimester resulting from the exhaustion. Total night-time sleep duration falls even more by late in the second trimester.
Majority of women report difficulty in sleeping during the third trimester. Around 98% women experience nocturnal awakening in their third trimester. Although awakening after sleep onset is more during this time i.e. third trimester, the total duration of sleep increases up to the pre-pregnancy sleep level. Sleep interruption in the third trimester are due to general irritation caused by backache, frequent urination, baby’s movements and leg discomfort.
Effects of pregnancy insomnia
Some of the daytime effects of pregnancy insomnia are hypersomnia, dowsiness and mood swings.
- It can also adversely impact your relationship with your partner and mess with mother-infant connect.
- It is also associated with increased awareness of labor pain, prolonged labor and increased possibility of cesarean.
- It even puts the women at higher risk of complications like depression after childbirth.
Causes of pregnancy insomnia
- Back pain : It is a common symptom of advanced pregnancy as when the baby grows the uterus expands. The other organs organs are pushed and the nerves might be irritated during the course. There is more weight in front of the body so the centre of gravity also shifts.
- Heartburn : During late pregnancy the baby is a lot bigger, so they are pushing all your organs further up your body (including stomach). As a result of this, the stomach will be squished. Everything being pushed up results in the acid in stomach also being pushed up, ultimately causing heartburn.
- Leg cramps : Leg cramps during pregnancy are common. During pregnancy the blood circulation is not as effective as normally. So the legs receive less amount of blood. The hormones that circulate cause leg cramps during pregnancy. As your pregnancy progresses, your weight increases and pressurises the legs. Accumulation of fluids also cause swelling.
- Breast tenderness : Increased progesterone can cause sore breasts/nipples. Many women experience this after ovulation with each cycle.
- Midnight hunger : In pregnancy body’s demand for nutrients is increased and so appetite which results in frequent episodes of hunger. As there is large gap between dinner and next day breakfast, one may become hungry at midnight.
- Frequent urination : Not only do you have to pee more frequently because the volume of your bladder is reduced by the weight of the fetus but you also produce more urine as your kidneys remove the baby’s blood wastes.
- Shortness of breath : During late pregnancy, the increased abdominal size causes slight difficulty and a sensation of shortness of breath especially when sitting in upright position.
- Anxiety : There are many thoughts running through the mind regarding the health of baby, labor, possible cesarean, etc which can lead up to anxiety leading to restlessness and insomnia.
- Frequent and vivid dreams could also be a reason for irregular sleeps.
How to counter pregnancy insomnia?
Being active throughout the day is one of the ways in which body can get a comfortable sleepy night. So you should avoid lazing around throughout the day and indulge in activities which would make you fit and tired enough to call it a day by night.
Exposing body to early sunlight :
Early morning is said to be one of the best time to get up and wait for the fresh sunlight to hit your face. The rays of the morning sunlight is believed to be able to set the body clock, and control the advent of sleep induced by hormones. Melatonin is anyway good to put your body to sleep at night. Therefore waking up early should be included in your daily routine to go out for either sightseeing or to workout. This way you can soak some of the beautiful morning sunshine into your body.
Develop a bedtime routine :
Try to go to bed at the same time every day at night. Begin with something relaxing that sets your vibe. Avoid blue light completely before sleep. Instead try reading books and utilize this time in exploring various genres. You don’t really have to stick yourself to those boring pregnancy books. Taking a soothing and relaxing bath before sleep would also help to calm your mind.
Diet and exercise :
Drink plenty of water throughout the day, but avoid caffeine in the late afternoon. Winding up your meals early help but that doesn’t mean you go to bed with an empty stomach. A warm glass of milk before sleep helps a lot.
Exercise regularly :
At least spend 30 minutes a day exercising unless your doctor advices against it. Try not to exercise around late evening as it releases adrenaline which might keep you awake for long.
Avoid spicy foods and heavy meals :
Having spicy food before bedtime increases the chances of heartburn at night. If you feel hungry in the middle of the night, you can munch onto something light like a banana, crackers and cheese or a bowl of cereal.
Use body pillows :
Either put some extra pillows on your bed that supports your belly to feel relaxed. Special maternity pillows are available in the market too like C-shaped pillows, U-shaped pillows, V-shaped pillows, etc. Using pillows to also move up your head and upper body by few inches helps as your centre of gravity shifts to put less pressure on your diaphragm which helps you breathe better. Use the pillows to keep your legs raised for comfort too.
- Keep your room as dark and quite as possible. Keep the doors and curtains shut. Get some blackout curtains for the room if needed.
- Meditate : some pregnant women have been meditating to hypnobirthing to prepare for labor. It helps to get deep sleep. It makes you feel much active in the morning. The night wigglings decrease. The regular loo breaks during the night go down.
- Keep yourself hydrated.
- Stress and anxiety kills sleep. Try talking out the issues with your close ones or even seek for professional help.
- Sleep on your left side : Lying on your side especially the left is the best sleeping position during pregnancy. It allows blood and nutrients to flow more easily to your uterus thus reaching more effectively to the fetus. This positions also allows the kidneys to remove excess fluids and wastes from the body more easily. It also ensures fewer swelling on your feet, hands and ankles.
- Turn down the temperature of the room.
- Try not to bring work to bed. Keep it just for sleep.