Pregnancy complications: Sleep changes
Pregnancy can have some serious effects on sleeping patterns and the primary reason behind it can be the growing size of the stomach. Here are some more details.
- Growing stomach size hinders with sleep during pregnancy.
- Increasing belly makes it difficult to find a comfortable position.
- There are not many varieties of positions to sleep.
- Tender breasts can cause discomfort.
The quality and pattern of sleep gets affected with pregnancy and the main reason behind it is the growing stomach size. A gradually increasing belly size will make you find it difficult to have a comfortable sleeping position. If you are used to sleeping on your stomach or back you will find it quite uncomfortable sleeping on your sides! Furthermore, you are not left with many options to choose from the variety of sleeping positions other than changing sides. Other than a growing belly size, tender breasts will be a source of discomfort and pain while sleeping on your tummy.
As the months pass, inches and pounds will add to your belly and body respectively making sleeping on your back troublesome and risky. A lot of pressure will be exerted on your back and on important veins which are responsible for blood circulation from your lower body to the heart this can lead to backaches, indigestion, improper breathing and blood circulation problems. Various related symptoms such as low blood pressure, heartburn and cramps can cause sleep interruptions. The growing uterus puts pressure on the bladder resulting in frequent urge to urinate resulting in interrupted sleep. A good amount of quality sleep is required during pregnancy as the body is working harder to nourish a life inside and fatigue is bound to happen.
Common physical symptoms which interfere with sleeping
Increased frequency of urination: The kidneys are working more to filter the increased fluids in your body in addition to the pressure exerted by the growing uterus on the bladder resulting in frequent urge to urinate.
Shortness of breath and increased heart rate: Due to the various hormonal changes occurring in your body and the growing size of the uterus which will be exerting pressure on your diaphragm, shortness of breath is experienced. Breathing would need some more guided effort causing you to breathe deeply especially while sleeping. During pregnancy, a woman experiences increased heart rate as the heart is pumping more blood during your pregnancy and has to work harder to process blood to the uterus as well as to the rest of the body.
Cramps and aches: Sleeping is also interrupted with continued pains and aches on the back and legs due to the excess weight a pregnant woman is carrying around.
Heartburn and acid reflux: The pregnancy hormones slow down digestion process by relaxing all muscle groups of the body. This results in indigestion and acid reflux which is the movement of undigested food and stomach acids back up into the esophagus causing heartburn.
Tips to sleep better
Start cultivating the habit of sleeping on your sides from the first month of pregnancy itself. Sleeping on your sides with the knees slightly bent is not only comfortable but is helpful too. Doctors advice sleeping on the left side for a pregnant woman as it helps in proper blood circulation to the placenta, keeps off pressure from the liver and inferior vena cava (large vein that carries blood from the feet to the heart) also helps in the kidney function better.
Try using different pillows to support your sleeping position lest you start sleeping on your back. Maternity pillows are available to provide you support in between your knees, under your belly and behind your back to ensure a comfortable sleep.
Wear comfortable, loose fitting and breathable clothes.
Avoid caffeine in all forms (aerated drinks, coffee and tea) especially near your bedtime hours.
Chalk out a schedule for your sleep, a routine will help your body function better.
Image source: Getty Images
Read more on During Pregnancy.
Source: Onlymyhealth editorial team Jul 29, 2015
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