Babies Steal your Sleep while they’re still on their way; How to improve sleep during pregnancy for your sake and the baby’s

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Babies Steal your Sleep while they’re still on their way; How to improve sleep during pregnancy for your sake and the baby’s

October 20, 2016

Written by: Eugene Gabriel

You still smile recalling the moment you found out that there was a plus on the pregnancy test stick. The butterflies in your stomach, the thought of hearing your little one utter the words “Mama” or “Dad” or, the mental images of you decorating the baby’s room in blue or pink. But did anyone tell you that getting a decent night’s sleep would be nearly impossible even BEFORE the big day.

Your family and friends might have prepped you with horror stories of sleep-deprived nights after your baby comes into this world, but not for the restless and uncomfortable nights you experience during pregnancy. Pregnancy greatly affects the sleeping pattern of a woman, because of hormonal, mental and physical changes that take place in the body.

A study conducted in April 2015 and published on sleep-journal.com, concluded that a significant disruption in sleep pattern is observed throughout the pregnancy, regardless of the month.

A major contributor to the sudden change in sleeping patterns can be linked to the drastic major hormonal changes that take place in the body during pregnancy. The effect of these hormonal changes are not only limited to the changes in the physiological function of the body, but also affects the mental function i.e. causes sudden changes in the mood and emotional states of a women.

For example, we know that the hormone Progesterone is released during the early stages of pregnancy. Progesterone relaxes smooth muscles and causes sensations of heartburn and frequent urination, which result in the disruption of sleep. Rising levels of Progesterone may also contribute to excessive daytime sleep and disrupt the sleeping pattern.

Another hormone Oxytocin, which is released during the last trimester, causes contractions while you sleep, which may wake you up. It may also cause you to go into labor during the night, so make sure you have your essentials packed into a bag for that emergency trip to the hospital in the middle of the night!

The sleeping pattern changes considerably during all three trimesters and it’s no walk in the park! The overall performance and efficiency of the body decreases during pregnancy and one of its major contributors is the disruptive sleeping pattern.

During the first Trimester, every pregnant woman experiences a sudden spike in the levels of Progesterone, which leads to feeling drowsy and sleep deprivation. It also causes frequent urination. These Progesterone spikes have a sleep inducing effect and cause you to grab your PJ’s and snore all day in bed. So now when someone complains about you snoring away all day in bed, you can just blame it on the Progesterone! Here are some tips for sleep survival during the first trimester:

  • Prioritize your sleep!
  • Make time for daytime naps and take them frequently.
  • Eat healthy and bland snacks throughout the day to reduce Nausea that wakes you up.
  • Drink lots of water and fluids during the day but cut back on it before 7 p.m.

During the second Trimester, women start feeling more active and get over the initial drowsiness which they experience during the first trimester. However, it is recommended that you still get as much sleep as you possibly can during this trimester as well. Heartburn and nightmares are the common issues that cause sleep disruption in the second trimester. Below are some tips for survival during the second trimester:

  • Try to get at least 8 hours of sleep a day.
  • Eat light and healthy to avoid heartburn at night. Try to have frequent smaller meals throughout the day, but not before bedtime.
  • Talk to a therapist if you are having nightmares.
  • To get better sleep, try lying down on one side and bend your knees. Place a pillow between your knees, one under your tummy and another one behind your back. In short, build a pillow fort for yourself in bed!

When it comes to sleep, the last trimester is going to be the hardest, and not just because of that big bump that doesn’t let you get comfortable in bed. Frequent urination, back pain, exhaustion, restless leg syndrome, body and muscle aches, all of these contribute greatly to a disturbed sleep. Depression and anxiety can also take over causing sudden nighttime waking up and the inability to fall asleep.  Some tips that can help regulate the sleep cycle even in the third trimester are:

  • Avoid unhealthy drinks especially carbonated drinks and alcohol.
  • Walking helps in keeping the muscles active and prevents leg cramps and muscle cramps at night.
  • Ask your partner for a relaxing massage.
  • Buy a pregnancy pillow from the store and try using it while sleeping.
  • If you are unable to sleep, try taking a relaxing warm bath or reading a good book.

It might be nine months of being generally uncomfortable, apprehensions, a lot of Googling to see what is wrong with you now, but when the day comes when you hold your little bundle of joy for the first time, you know you will gladly go through all of that again in a heartbeat.

01About Author:

Eugene Gabriel has always been fascinated about sleep and how such an ideal activity is so important for our life. He is specifically interested in how sleep affects health and wellbeing. Follow him on Twitter @eugenegarielj.

 

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