Sleep may be either inadequate or poor quality during pregnancy. However, it is important that an expecting mother has the full 8 hours of sleep.
Reasons for Inadequate Asleep:
Waking up frequently at night
Difficulty in returning to sleep
These problems can affect your quality of life and cause problems like daytime sleepiness, fatigue, poor concentration, cognitive dysfunction, poor performance, impaired immunity, diabetes, obesity, and even death if severe sleep deprivation.
Causes of Sleep disorders during pregnancy:
Size of your body especially your belly
Restless leg syndrome
Excessive daytime sleep
Insomnia is not harmful to the baby and can affect up to 80% of the pregnant women.
Common issues causing sleep disorders during pregnancy:
Restless leg syndrome– This is a condition characterized by sensations such as cramping, itching, aching, burning, creeping in legs at rest. This can make sleep difficult due to the need for constant leg movement. This may be due to deficiencies in the body, so take your iron and folic acid supplements regularly.
Sleep apnoea– This is characterized by interruptions of breathing during sleep due to fatty tissue falling back in throats and causing obstruction in the upper airway. This causes snoring and paused breathing with an interruption in sleep to force the body to breathe. Sleep is of poor quality with extreme daytime sleepiness with a morning headache. This is more common in overweight women. Sleeping on the side will help to some extent.
Tips for better sleep
Maintain a regular sleep/wake cycle. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day including weekends will help
Prepare for bedtime by a warm bath or massage
Maintain a sleep routine. Read a good book, listen to music and maintain temperature settings according to your liking
Practice relaxation and deep breathing
Exercise regularly. Exercising for at least 30 minutes daily will improve circulation and mood
Cutback fluid intake near bedtime. This will reduce your nighttime trips to the bathroom
Avoid spicy and heavy meal at bedtime. This will help prevent heartburn at night. The snack should be light such as banana, a small bowl of cereal
Sleeping position is very important during pregnancy. Sleep on your side and not back or prone position to get good sleep
Pillows are very helpful to support your body. Pregnancy pillows are good. Sleep on the left side with hips and knees bent with a pillow in between your knees, abdomen, and back
Minimise your screen time and avoid altogether near bedtime
If you are not able to sleep at all, get up, read a book, take a small snack or warm milk before trying to sleep again
Medication- Sedatives should be avoided during pregnancy. However, if the problem is very severe then some medicines can be given by the doctor for short period. But self-medication and OTC medication should be avoided at any cost.