Pregnant and the changes in your sleep habits
With all the times you have to run to the bathroom, change positions to feel comfortable, and worry about taking care of your baby, there’s no wonder you are not able to sleep. Many things will cause physical and emotional changes in the pregnant mother. Having trouble sleeping is a common problem for pregnant women and the more you can find something to get you relaxed, the better for you and the baby.
Sleep changes in the first trimester
If you have been deliberate about getting pregnant, one of the first signs that pregnancy has taken place is that you feel a lot sleepier than usual. During the first three months of pregnancy, sleep may overtake you during the day so much so that you will find it difficult to keep awake. This is all a result of the hormones progesterone and estrogen that are flooding your body now to provide a supporting environment for your baby. Here is what will happen also.
Progesterone causes wakefulness. The presence of hormones in the body reduces the desire to sleep at nights. That is of course in addition to you worrying about your baby and her health. You will find that you are unable to fall asleep at nights and are only able to take short naps during the day.
You need to urinate more frequently. Progesterone causes the production of greater amounts of blood that rushes to the organs of the body. More blood means that your kidneys have more urine pouring through them and your bladder. Therefore you will have to go to the bathroom more frequently to pass that urine that builds quickly.
First trimester is the beginning of heartburn for you. Food begins to settle in your stomach for longer and becomes acidic. This causes the burning sensation called heartburn. As you climb in the pregnancy, your heartburn may become more intense.
You’re just not comfortable. First trimester is a time when you wish that nothing crosses those two breasts of yours. Your breasts can feel extremely tender, sore and swollen making it even more difficult to find a comfortable position especially if you were used to lying on your tummy.
Sleep changes in second trimester
Second trimester is considered the honeymoon phase of the pregnancy, when you get a reprieve from all that hormonal upheaval that occurred in the first three months. So by your fourth month you should be getting a bit more sleep. Hormone levels are still rising but not as fast as in first trimester. Therefore, most of the discomforts would have slowed and you feel better. This includes nausea and vomiting that many women experience during this time and that contribute to the lack in their overall well-being. However, your sleep pattern may not return to that state as before you were pregnant. You may still find yourself waking more frequently during the nights possibly as a result of worry and emotional instability, caused by hormones affecting your mood. How you and those around you view your pregnancy could also impact your ability to sleep. By the end of this second pregnancy stage you may find your wakefulness becoming a greater concern again as in the first.
Sleep changes in third trimester
Your uterus is getting in the way. As you enter the third stage of pregnancy you will find your sleep patterns in the first trimester returning. In fact, studies have found that sleep deprivation is worse in the third trimester than the first. Several things are happening at this stage that are causing sleeplessness. In the first place, your growing uterus is making it difficult to find a comfortable position. Lying on your stomach is not an option anymore and you find yourself twisting from one side to the other, or trying to lie on your back.
The need to urinate increases. As your expanding uterus pushes down on your bladder, you will want to urinate more frequently. Hormonal actions continue to play a role as more hCG hormone causes greater amount of blood to flow to the kidneys. Blame it also on more waste being passed through the kidneys from both mother and baby.
Breathing problems wake you up. Very often the pregnant mother develops some kind of breathing problem at this stage. Nasal congestion, sleep apnea, and snoring may increase. Your partner may let you know how much you are keeping him awake at night and you yourself are not able to remain asleep because of your breathing obstruction.
Other problems arise. Several other problems in the third trimester can cause sleeplessness for the pregnant woman. Some pregnant women tend to experience a crawling sensation in their legs when they are at rest or trying to sleep. When this happens they get the urge to move their feet. This is called restless feet syndrome (RLS) and it is not quite clear what causes it. If you seem to develop the condition try to stretch and massage your feet when the spasms occur. Some iron supplement may relieve the condition. However, make sure that you consult your health provider on this.
Heartburn not only continues to plague you, your condition has gotten worse. The uterus is pushing up against your stomach, causing food to push back into the esophagus. The acidic nature of the food can feel like fire burning into your stomach and instead of sleeping, you are sitting up to ease the pain. Again, you may be worrying about taking care of your baby causing you to lose sleep.
Improving your sleep condition
If you seem to be worrying that you are not sleeping as you think you should, take heart that you are not alone as sleeplessness during pregnancy is a common condition. In fact, just 50% of pregnant women take only one nap during the week. 60% take only a nap on the weekend. There are a few things that you can do to improve your sleep status. Consider that much of what you will do is to ease the symptoms that are causing you not to sleep.
Practice sleeping on your side. From very early in the pregnancy start learning to sleep on your sides. The left side is especially useful as it improves blood flow to the heart.
Try exercising. Put some exercise in your routine. Walking, swimming and yoga are excellent in boosting mental and physical health and they help you to sleep too. Avoid exercising too close to bedtime anyway since this can increase your mental alertness and prevent sleep.
Change your sleep routine. You could have a relaxing time before you go to bed. In addition, develop a schedule for sleep; your brain may adjust to this. Avoid distractions to cause mental alertness such as the television. You could also nap during the day to catch up on the sleep you lose at night.
Find support. You can make minor changes to your space such as placing pillows under your tummy and against you back for more comfort. To help reduce the pains that accompany some pregnancies, you could place boards under your bed to keep it firmer.
Consider your nutrition. Drink a glass of warm milk to get you in the mood for sleep. Some high carbohydrate foods such as cereals and milk, toast and crackers can promote sleep also. Avoid foods that contain caffeine including coffee, tea, and some soft drink products.