Are you pregnant or trying to become so? You may not know it yet, but sleep is an important part of pregnancy. Many women feel more tired than usual while they are pregnant, especially during the first trimester and sometimes during the third, too. This sleepiness makes sense when you think about it: the body is producing enough energy for two people, not just one!
Sleep is Key for a Healthy Pregnancy
Women don’t just feel more tired when they’re pregnant; they actually require more sleep than usual to have a healthy pregnancy and delivery. One study found that women getting less than 6 hours of sleep each night were 4.5 times more likely to have a c-section.
The same study found that those with disrupted sleep had significantly longer labors and were up to 5.2 times more likely to have a c-section. Our society sometimes treats rest as a luxury, but it's essential during pregnancy.
Many women experience sleep problems throughout their pregnancies. Some report having problems falling asleep, while others wake up and can’t get back to sleep. Both the growing uterus and increased production of the hormone progesterone can cause frequent urges to pee, which also disrupt sleep.
To counteract these problems, pregnant women can do several things to help improve their sleep:
- Plan to stay in bed a bit longer than usual. Since it can be hard to fall asleep, you can allow some extra time can help take the stress out of sleeping. This means that you’ll get the right amount of sleep even if you lie awake for a while.
- Use a small night light at night, rather than a larger light. The more light you see when you get up to pee at night, the more likely you are to have trouble falling back to sleep.
- Talk to your doctor about heartburn medication if this issue keeps you awake. While you may decide that you don’t want to take medication during your pregnancy, you should weigh your options so you can get plenty of rest.
Healthy Sleep Positions During Pregnancy
Many pregnant women find that their usual sleep positions become uncomfortable during pregnancy. This discomfort can be because of the weight and size of the pregnant uterus, back pain caused by the growing baby, heartburn, or shortness of breath. While all of these are normal, they can all also disrupt sleep.
If you are pregnant or thinking of becoming so, it’s important to consider your sleep. If you develop good sleep habits before you’re pregnant or as soon as you find out you’re pregnant, you can set yourself up for good sleep throughout your pregnancy. Taking some time to make sure you sleep as well as possible can help you have a good delivery and a healthy baby.
Author: Samantha Kent, sleep expert at SleepHelp.org