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Are you wondering how many hours of sleep a pregnant woman needs?
Pregnant women need at least seven hours of sleep every night. Unfortunately, expectant mothers report feeling exhausted, uncomfortable and constantly stressed about the health of their unborn children.
And all this worrying can have a negative effect on the quality of their sleep. As a pregnant woman, proper rest is crucial to both you and your unborn child’s health.
Luckily, we have listed all the symptoms that you will be experiencing during each trimester of your pregnancy and ways to ease their effects so you can enjoy a good night’s rest.
Read on to find out.
Contents & Quick Navigation
- First Trimester Sleep Deterrents and Solutions
- Second Trimester Sleep Deterrents and Solutions
- Third Trimester Sleep Deterrents and Solutions
First Trimester Sleep Deterrents and Solutions
First-time mothers might be surprised by how quickly their sleep is affected when they fall pregnant. The following are the symptoms you might experience during your first trimester:
1. Irregular Sleep Patterns
During pregnancy, your body will experience elevated levels of the hormone ‘progesterone’ which maintains your uterine lining. Unfortunately, progesterone has a sedative effect too.
Your metabolism also skyrockets to aid the growth of your baby. The combined effects of these factors may have you feeling sleepy at odd hours of the day.
Take more naps instead of a long uninterrupted sleep session. Planning nap times helps. Try napping between two and four in the afternoon or you might find it harder to sleep at night.
If you find your eyelids getting heavy anytime during the day, ditch whatever you are doing and hit the hay. Power naps will energize you and you will feel less tired as you tackle chores.
2. Frequent Urination
Now that you are pregnant, the bathroom might become your second home. Unfortunately, that means that you have to wake up multiple times during the night to empty your bladder.
This is because of your elevated progesterone levels and the pressure of your growing uterus against your bladder.
Limit caffeine intake. Only drink caffeinated beverages in the morning, if at all, and don’t drink any liquids after 6 pm. Fortunately, this affliction will subside in your second trimester.
3. Morning Sickness
The causes of morning sickness vary in different women. Common reasons might be increased hormone levels or low blood sugar. Morning sickness can strike at any time of day, such as during the evening or late at night, reducing the number of hours of sleep pregnant women can get.
Keep a packet of saltine crackers on your nightstand so they are always nearby for whenever you feel nauseous. They have been said to help with nausea.
4. Breast Sensitivity
Early in your pregnancy, your breasts might feel tender and painful. The main culprits for this are the high levels of estrogen and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) which is produced by the placenta. These are secreted to prepare your breasts for lactation.
If you favor sleeping on your stomach, it may become impossible as your pregnancy progresses. This can make falling asleep even more difficult.
Taking a hot shower before bed will ease tense muscles and have a relaxing effect, thus lengthening the number of hours pregnant women can sleep. Popping a Tylenol, which is completely safe to take during pregnancy, might also help relieve breast tenderness.
Additionally, using a pregnancy pillow makes sleeping on your sides comfortable. This is a healthier alternative to sleeping on your stomach or back.
Your out-of-whack hormones, especially progesterone, are the primary offenders behind most of your pregnancy woes. They cause your blood vessels to dilate leading to painful migraines.
Taking a Tylenol before bed might help. Use a towel soaked in cold water and lay it over your forehead. It will cause your blood vessels to contract and ease the migraine. Sleep when you can during the day as this ensures that you won’t develop a migraine from lethargy.
Second Trimester Sleep Deterrents and Solutions
Fortunately, the number of hours pregnant women get sleep increases during the second trimester, although there will still be some issues that you may need to deal with. These include:
1. Nocturnal Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
Sadly, women fall victim to this painful disease while pregnant. The fluctuating hormones in your body during this time cause the digestive system to slow down, and the muscles between your stomach and esophagus to slacken.
The added pressure from the heavy uterus pushes acid up into the esophagus resulting in a painful burning sensation.
To worsen things, lying down will further encourage the acid to rise up into the esophagus thus cutting down the number of hours pregnant women get to sleep.
It might be wiser to eat smaller meals during the night or break up your meals into six small meals a day. Avoid spicy, oily or acidic foods such as tomatoes, oranges, lemons or coffee etc. Do not lie down immediately after eating.
Sit up for at least four hours to prevent digestive acids from rising up. Use pillows to prop yourself up for comfort.
If none of these tips help, you can use medications such as Tagamet, Prilosec, antacids, or Mylanta. Although these are safe to use during pregnancy, it is still better to consult your ob-gyn first.
2. Leg Muscle Spasms
Abrupt leg muscle spasms during the night are extremely painful and will completely ruin any chance of getting your nightly rest. Unfortunately, these are far more intense in your third trimester.
Muscle spasms are primarily caused by low calcium levels in the body. Cut down on carbonated beverages. These contain phosphorus which reduces the absorption of calcium in the body.
Eat foods rich in calcium such as milk products, leafy green vegetables, fish etc.
When your leg muscles spasm, immediately flex your foot. Change the position of your foot from being parallel to the ground to extending your heels and pointing your toes upwards and then back again.
Keep doing this until the cramp subsides.
3. Sleeping in a Different Position
As you get bigger and heavier, sleeping on your back should be avoided. When you sleep in this position, your uterus puts pressure on the inferior vena cava and reduces the amount of blood that gets to the heart.
As a result, your heart works harder causing your blood pressure to increase. You and your baby will get less oxygen and nutrients. This will negatively affect the growth of the fetus.
Fortunately, you can trick yourself into sleeping on your sides. Placing a pillow underneath your right hip will push your uterus outwards and remove its pressure on the inferior vena cava.
Your back and chest remain flat against your bed so you can easily fall asleep.
Pregnant women are likely to develop narcolepsy during their second trimester. People with this condition report having disturbing and very life-like dreams.
This can stem from anxiety about becoming a first-time parent, or fears of something bad happening to the baby.
The only way to battle anxiety is to focus on relaxing. You can join yoga classes for pregnant women, take a warm bath with scented candles, or read your favorite book. Cuddling your partner will release oxytocin which aids sleep.
However, if your anxieties worsen, seeing a counselor will help you sort out your issues.
Third Trimester Sleep Deterrents and Solutions
Unfortunately, the number of hours a pregnant woman gets to sleep is lowest in the third trimester. Most women report waking up at least three times in one night while others have woken up five times or more.
Studies suggest that women who get less than six hours of sleep have longer labors or are four and a half times more at risk of having C-sections.
Here are some issues that you may face during this time and how to overcome them:
1. Back Aches
According to research conducted by Yale University, the number of hours pregnant women get to sleep is much shorter in 60 percent of women due to backache.
Try sleeping on your left as this reduces chances of snoring, takes pressure off your back and increases the number of nutrients and oxygen that reach your baby. Using a C-shaped pregnancy pillow will help you maintain this position as it supports the knees, back, and belly.
2. Recurrent Frequent Urination
Your bump is at its largest and heaviest during the third trimester. All this weight presses down on your bladder and is the reason why you may be sprinting off to the bathroom so often.
Reduce fluid intake after 6 pm and do not drink water two hours before you hit the sheets. Raise your bump with your hand to take pressure off your bladder to empty it completely each time you pee.
3. Sleep Apnea
Overweight pregnant women are at risk of developing sleep apnea. The fatty tissues in the throat can collapse on the airways which can cause the sufferer to stop breathing for about 10 seconds.
The brain wakes the sufferer in order to start breathing again. This can greatly reduce the number of hours pregnant women get to sleep and cause sufferers to feel lethargic the next day.
They may even get morning migraines from lower oxygen levels in the blood due to the previous night’s episodes.
Studies suggest that in about six percent of women, snoring can progress to sleep apnea. Furthermore, women who suffer from sleep-breathing problems are likely to get preeclampsia and give birth to premature babies.
If your sleep apnea worsens, see a certified sleep specialist. You may be told to use a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) which keeps your airways clear so both you and your baby can get enough oxygen.
4. Restless Leg Syndrome
About 20 percent of pregnant women complain of stiffness, stinging, or prickling sensations in their legs. These are symptoms of restless leg syndrome. Sufferers are forced to continuously move their legs to alleviate symptoms which disrupts their sleep.
Unfortunately, these symptoms return once the leg is no longer in motion. Pregnant women who have low levels of iron and folate in their bodies are more likely to develop this disease.
According to studies, 26 percent of pregnant women report that they suffered most during the seventh or eighth month of pregnancy. Luckily, symptoms disappear within a month after labor.
Ask your partner to give you a light leg massage before bed. Taking walks during the evening helps as well. Additionally, eat foods rich in iron and folate such as leafy greens, red meat, eggs, legumes etc.
Avoid caffeinated beverages which reduce the absorption of iron and folate by the body.
5. Antenatal Anxiety
During pregnancy, you may find yourself worrying a lot. Even the slightest things might make you think twice. You just can’t seem to relax and it’s affecting your sleep. You lay awake at night worrying about everything.
The nesting instinct is an intense urge to clean and organize to give the baby a nice, cozy home. It appears in the later months of pregnancy. Embracing this instinct and following your intuition will help you feel more in control.
So roll up your sleeves and get to work on that nursery! The more distracted you are, the less likely you will be worried about trivial matters.
Related Reads: Everything You Need to Know About Back Pain During Pregnancy
Following the above advice will ensure that you are getting your valuable nighttime rest. Although pregnancy is a stressful time, getting your seven to eight hours of sleep every night means that you will be energized enough to tackle any issues head-on.
Eat foods rich in healthy vitamins and minerals, reduce caffeine and any liquids before bedtime, and invest in a decent pregnancy pillow to help you get a comfortable night’s rest.
Exercise regularly to relieve stress by taking a walk or joining a yoga class, and take power naps when the need arises. And when in doubt, always consult a specialist. We hope that our advice helps you to enjoy a good night’s sleep.
- Amazing Solutions to 5 Common Pregnancy Sleep Problems
- Taking Care of You & Your Baby While You’re Pregnant
- 8 Ways to Deal With Insomnia During Early Pregnancy
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