December 18, 2020 2:34:14 pm
By Dr Amita Shah
Expecting mothers often experience sleepless nights, and having a good, sound sleep is considered a privilege by many. It is important to sleep for at least seven to eight hours every night during pregnancy. It is good for both the mother and child. Sound sleep without intermittent breaks is critical to have a healthy baby as disrupted maternal sleep is often associated with poor pregnancy outcomes, such as growth restriction, and preterm babies. However, one must be careful of oversleeping as well – sleeping continuously for nine hours or more is considered oversleeping and can have a detrimental impact on the child, according to a research conducted by Michigan Medicine of the University of Michigan. It is important to note that disrupted sleep may also lead to oversleeping and pose risk to the child.
Probable causes of oversleeping
Physical discomfort due to a growing belly and anxiety about the future are often among the common reasons for disrupted sleep among pregnant women, which can extend her overall sleeping hours. Some of the other common reasons are:
Fluctuating hormones: The varying levels of hormones can trigger insomniac tendencies in would-be mothers. In the first trimester, increase in progesterone levels and drop in blood pressure and blood sugar levels can potentially lead to feelings of fatigue and lead them to want more sleep.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): Also known as nocturnal gastroesophageal reflux, it is common in women who have a loose muscular ring at the bottom of their esophagus that opens to let food into the stomach. This allows food and liquid to come back to the throat. During pregnancy, the extra pressure on the stomach area can affect the ring’s proper closure and lead to GERD.
Sleep apnea: It is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing stops and starts repeatedly. One way to identify is to find out if the woman snores loudly and feels tired even after a full night’s sleep. A yes could possibly mean they have sleep apnea. Consult the doctor immediately as studies have found that hormonal and physiological changes during pregnancy can potentially lead to sleep apnea.
Restless leg syndrome, frequent urination: Many pregnant women experience hampered sleep due to a need to constantly move their legs, a problem caused by increasing estrogen levels or a lack of folic acid and iron. Some may not be able to sleep quietly, especially in first and third trimesters, due to their urge to urinate frequently as the growing belly puts extra pressure on the bladder.
Getting the right amount of sleep during pregnancy
Getting the right amount of quality sleep time is important for maternal and neonatal health. Following are a few ways to achieve it:
Ensuring physical movement and exercise, unless advised by the doctor to rest completely. Try and avoid a sedentary pregnancy. Get a daily and right dose of physical exercise which will tire you. This will improve your blood circulation and help avoid complications such as hypertension and gestational diabetes as well as help you fall and remain asleep.
If you are stressed about the time after childbirth, discuss with our doctor. If you are too distressed, consult a mental health expert to find out and address the underlying causes of the problems.
Creating a sleep routine can help a lot. Fix a time for going to sleep, it can help in creating the right sleep behaviour and set the mood for quality sleep. It is also important to create the right atmosphere for a good sleep – stay away from gadgets at least 30 minutes before your sleep time and keep them, including a TV, outside the bedroom, make sure the bed is uncluttered, and the room is dark or dimly lit as strong light will delay falling asleep.
(The writer is Medical Director & Head (Obs & Gynae) at Miracles Mediclinic & Apollo Cradle Hospital, Gurugram)
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