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How hormones interact with sleep

Part 2 - Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a beautiful but challenging experience. Many women experience different states of discomfort for nine months as they face the challenges and rewards of being pregnant. One thing that many women suffer throughout the stages of pregnancy is lack of sleep. As women progress through each trimester, sleep becomes almost a distant memory. Between waking up from a kicking baby, to not being able to get comfortable, to the constant need to use the restroom, there are many factors that may keep a pregnant woman awake at night.

According to the National Sleep Foundation's 1998 Women and Sleep poll, 78% of women reported more disturbed sleep during pregnancy than at other times. Depending on the trimester, feelings of fatigue, restlessness, and other hormonal imbalances can become more pronounced. BabyCenter.com breaks down what you may be feeling in each trimester and how this affects your sleep.

In the first trimester, the need to nap may be overwhelming. This is due to high levels of progesterone being pumped throughout the body which causes drowsiness and ultimately affects sleep at night, making you more tired during the day. BabyCenter also cites the need to urinate as a big disturbance of sleep. Because of the constant pressure of a growing uterus, a full night's sleep is not always possible. It is best to not drink too many fluids too close to bed time.

In the second trimester, pregnant women should be aware of common sleep problems that aren't necessarily tied to pregnancy, but may become heightened during this time. The National Sleep Foundation lists insomnia, restless leg syndrome (RLS), sleep apnea, and nocturnal gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) to name a few. Also during the second trimester, snoring and congestion, leg cramps and tossing and turning to find comfortable positions may be what's keeping you (and your partner) from a peaceful night's sleep.

The third trimester probably takes the most sleep away from any woman than other stages of pregnancy. With the belly getting bigger, and the excitement and anxiety over the birth and the baby's activeness inside of you, falling asleep and staying asleep is made even more difficult. Similar sleep symptoms can be expected along with more pronounced feelings of discomfort on the bladder, in finding a comfortable position, and other sleep stealers.

The best way to work on getting a good night's sleep is to set a sleeping schedule and let sleep be a priority. Here are some other things that you can do as a mommie-to-be to help get a better night's sleep:

  • The National Sleep Foundation suggests sleeping on the left side during pregnancy as a beneficial position to improve blood flow and nutrients to the uterus.
  • Drink fluids throughout the day but not as much at night.
  • Eat small, healthy meals throughout the day to avoid heartburn later on.
  • Exercise!
  • Take naps but don't take advantage of them. Sleeping too much during the day can keep you up at night.
  • Pregnancy is an exciting time in a woman's life, but can lead to many restless nights. Follow these tips and work on getting a good night's sleep for you and your baby.
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