5 Common Pregnancy Sleep Problems | KM NU Hospitals
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5 Common Pregnancy Sleep Problems

Pregnancy is a much-awaited and joyous phase in the life of any woman. The thought of bringing another life into this world, brings a feeling of contentment and a sense of responsibility. However, the journey of a pregnant woman may not always be smooth. Among various side effects and complications that arise due to pregnancy, facing sleep problems can be a common complaint.

Feeling tired in pregnancy

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During pregnancy, the body experiences and undergoes many changes, both from the physical aspect and on the emotional front. It is common for a woman to feel tired and fatigued during pregnancy, especially during the initial 12 weeks. The reason for this can be attributed to a spike in the levels of progesterone, a hormone produced by the ovaries and placenta during pregnancy. The latter stages of pregnancy can be taxing on a woman too because the growing belly can create pressure on the diaphragm and make it difficult to move around. The baby bump can make it difficult for a woman to get a good night’s sleep.

5 common sleep problems during pregnancy

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  • Obstructive sleep apnea: During the third trimester, high levels of estrogen can cause some women to develop rhinitis (inflammation of the nasal tissue). This often leads to snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a sleep condition in which a person experiences snoring, gasping, and repeated lapses in breathing that bring down the quality of sleep. OSA can cause restricted oxygen flow to the uterus, leading to increased risk of complications such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and even cesarean section. This sleep disorder is thought to affect 1 in 5 women during pregnancy.
  • Restless leg syndrome (RLS): Women who suffer from RLS, experience sensations such as crawling, itching, or tickling that causes them to have the irresistible urge to move their legs. Typically, RLS occurs in the evening, often when a person gets into bed. Those who suffer from RLS, find it difficult to fall asleep as this condition tends to be more severe when the person is at rest. RLS is said to affect one-third of women during their third trimester of pregnancy.
  • Gastroesohageal reflex disorder (GERD): Commonly known as heartburn or acid reflux, this condition causes an uncomfortable, burning sensation in the esophagus, especially when lying down. GERD is a very common cause of insomnia during pregnancy, affecting one-quarter of women in the first trimester and one-half in the third trimester. If left untreated for long, GERD can cause damage to the esophagus.
  • Insomnia: It is defined as continual and repeated difficulty in sleep initiation and duration in spite of having the opportunity to sleep. Insomnia is very common in pregnancy and results in some form of daytime disruption in activities. The most common reasons for sleep disturbance during pregnancy include frequent urination, heartburn, and backache or ache in hips. Other contributing factors to loss of sleep may be nausea and vomiting during the first trimester and fetal movements during the last trimester of pregnancy. Nonpregnancy-related factors that affect the quality of sleep are maternal smoking and inadequate sleep hygiene.
  • Narcolepsy: This condition is characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness. Women suffering from narcolepsy may exhibit hallucinations, sleep paralysis, and nocturnal sleep disruption. Symptoms of narcolepsy may be aggravated by the sleep disturbances associated with pregnancy and due to withdrawal of medicines used to treat this condition.

Management of sleep disorders during pregnancy

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It is important for a pregnant woman to maintain regular sleep schedules and practice adequate sleep hygiene. Insomnia patients should be taught relaxation techniques such as yoga. If the pregnant woman is suffering from any underlying medical condition such as GERD, certain lifestyle modifications such as sleeping with the head end of the bed elevated and avoiding oral intake at least 2 hours before sleeping time, helps. Those suffering from narcolepsy may have to allow time for frequent daytime naps. All caffeinated beverages and too heavy exercises close to bedtime must be avoided.

Importance of sleep during pregnancy

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Having a good night’s rest during pregnancy is important for both the mother and baby. Chronic sleep loss is known to affect the immune system, making a significant impact on maternal and fetal health. Women who do not get enough sleep during pregnancy are at an increased risk of developing pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia and gestational diabetes. Poor sleep is also known to be a risk factor for preterm birth, low birth weight, painful labor, and higher incidences of cesarean section.

Although sleep disturbances are frequently reported during pregnancy, with careful treatment and following certain lifestyle modifications, one can get help in alleviating the symptoms of these sleep-associated problems. Lack of treatment may have adverse consequences on the mother and fetus.

KM NU hospitals is one of the best gynecologist multispecialty hospitals in Ambur. It has a team of dedicated and highly professional gynecologists who offer the best treatment for all your gynecology-related issues. If you or a loved one is pregnant and suffer from sleep problems, it is best to seek their help by visiting KM NU hospitals without delay!


Author: Dr Gracy Sunny Kindo