Pregnancy is often a joyous time for many women, but poor sleep doesn’t make it easy. According to Live Science, physical and emotional changes can keep you awake at night as your exhaustion increases and more sleep obstacles appear.
Published in the American Journal of Obstetrics, a study conducted by Professor Kathy Lee at the University of California-San Francisco revealed that first-time moms who slept less than 6 hours each night were 4.5 times more likely to have a C-section and be in labor 10 hours or more, compared to first-time mothers who slept 7 hours or more.
Throughout your pregnancy it’s normal to feel tired, although researchers aren’t quite sure why. However, Professor Lee says that the increase of progesterone levels inside the body may be a contributor, along with the physical changes women experience each trimester.
Here’s what you can expect when you are trying to get quality sleep for two, according to Live Science:
Your First Trimester
- More bathroom trips: During this stage you may not only feel exhausted, but the rise of progesterone levels will also make you take more bathroom trips at night. You may find your sleep disrupted more nights each week and your daytime sleepiness increasing each day.
- Nausea at unexpected times: Morning sickness is also a common complaint of many women, which may also hurt your snooze as it can occur during nighttime hours as well. Try keeping dry cereal or crackers next to your bed to ease symptoms.
- Increased body temperature: As your metabolic rate increases, expect to feel warm or hot at night. Keep your fan on high, turn down the A/C and opt for light pajamas to combat the heat and sleep through the night.
- Snoring: You may have never been a snorer until you became pregnant, and that’s completely normal. However, bring your concerns up to your doctor to ensure that you don’t have the sleep disorder sleep apnea to increase your chances of a healthy pregnancy and birth. Women who snore during pregnancy may be at greater risk for high blood pressure during this time.
Your Second Trimester
While this is often the best stage of pregnancy for women as hormones levels and changes aren’t occurring as fast, Professor Lee says there are a few hurdles that could hold you back.
- Leg cramps: This sleep disruptor can occur if you are anemic or have low iron levels. Those leg cramps may even begin to mimic the uncomfortable sensation of restless legs syndrome, with symptoms become more severe as time goes on. Walking can help, but it’s best to seek the help your licensed physician.
- Heartburn: Due to the growth of your uterus and it pressing on your tummy, you’ll likely experience discomfort at night. Don’t forget your healthy sleep habits, try avoiding spicy foods at dinner time. Sleep on your left side with your knees bent or elevate your head with a pillow to combat the heartburn.
- Bizarre dreams: While researchers don’t know why pregnancy may help you recall more of your crazier dreams, Professor Lee theorizes that it could be due to your frequent nighttime awakenings. Nightmares can cause anxiety and promote insomnia, so try to relax before climbing into bed and thinking positive thoughts for quality shut-eye.
Your Third Trimester
- An energetic baby: Your fetus has become more active as your tummy continues to get bigger. All those dancing moves happening inside your body can lead to more sleepless nights. Add in more naps to combat daytime sleepiness and strengthen your immune system.
- Uncomfortable sleeping positions: You may struggle to find a comfortable sleeping position, but keep in mind that sleeping on your back can put pressure on the nerves in your spine, as well as the major vein transporting blood between your heart and lower body.On the other hand, sleeping on your left side has been shown help your growing fetus receive blood and nutrients more efficiently and improve you own blood circulation. You may also try placing a pillow under your belly, another behind your back and then a third between your knees to relieve pain and create more support.
- More snoring: If you weren’t snoring during any other stage of your pregnancy, it’s likely you will in this final stage as your weight increases and you are experiencing more nasal congestion. Try using nasal strips to open up your passageways for easier breathing as you snooze.