How Will Pregnancy Impact My Sleep?

For many women, pregnancy causes significant sleep problems. However, there are practical solutions to help minimize some of the problems that can occur during
the different trimesters.

First Trimester
During the first trimester, it is usual to feel sleepy during the day. This is because high levels of progesterone are increasing drowsiness. Progesterone can also cause sleep disruptions during the night, increasing daytime tiredness even more. Although many people advise against daytime naps for those suffering with sleep problems, during pregnancy naps can relieve some of the exhaustion.

The breasts begin to feel tender at this stage and it is often difficult to find a comfortable sleeping position. Being comfortable in bed is very important and it may that this is the ideal time to invest in a new double mattress to maximise comfort. Mothers-to-be can also start 'training' themselves to sleep on their left side. Not only does this increase blood and nutrient flow to the uterus, but it will also help later in the pregnancy.

For many women, needing to go to the toilet more is common, mainly because of pressure on the bladder. There is no real cure for this, but minimising the number of drinks in the evening may help. It can also be beneficial to cut out caffeine, as this stimulates the kidneys to produce more urine. Some women find that bladder pressure eases later in the pregnancy as the baby moves about more.

Heartburn can occur throughout the pregnancy and is usually caused by progesterone in the first trimester. Because progesterone relaxes body tissues, it may also relax the valve that separates the oesophagus from the stomach, allowing stomach acids to move up into the esophagus. Progesterone also slows down food digestion. Avoiding spicy or fatty foods and citrus foods and drinks can help reduce incidences of heartburn. Eating smaller meals in the evening and not eating anything three hours before sleep can also be helpful.

Second Trimester
For those who start getting leg cramps during the night, pressing the feet against the wall or standing up can help to relieve the discomfort. Sometimes these cramps can arise from a lack of calcium, so additional milk or cheese in the diet may help to minimise them. Gentle exercise and movement during the day will keep the blood circulating, which can also reduce the chance of leg cramps. Exercise will also relieve stress and help with relaxation.

Dreams can become very disturbing during pregnancy and can often disrupt sleep. Although usually hormone related, they can also result from pregnancy worries. Speaking to a professional may help to alleviate some of these issues.

Third Trimester
When sleeping on the left side, it can sometimes be more comfortable to sleep with a pillow under the stomach and another under or behind the knees. The bigger the baby gets, the more awkward it is to turn in bed and a turning sheet, which has glossy sides, can assist with this. Heartburn remains a problem in the third trimester, although this is probably due to the baby putting pressure on the stomach, rather than hormones.

Many women will be worrying about their baby and the delivery at this point and the additional stress and anxiety will affect sleep. It may help to discuss concerns with a doctor or midwife. If poor sleep becomes a serious problem during pregnancy, it is essential to speak to a professional as they can offer further practical advice on how to deal with it.

Author Bio
Our guest blogger for today's post is Leyla, a freelance writer regularly contributes to health and fitness blogs, specifically writing for women. Has your sleep been affected by your pregnancy? Tweet your experiences and advice to @babysleepguide.

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