We’ve all heard of the saying “eating for two” when you’re pregnant. Now health professionals are highlighting the importance of “sleeping for two.”
For moms-to-be, the effects of poor sleep go beyond irritability, exhaustion and poor concentration. Research suggests insufficient and low-quality sleep during pregnancy can disrupt normal immune function and lead to birth-related complications.
One study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that expectant moms who slept less than six hours a night had longer labors and were 4.5 times more likely to have a cesarean section compared with women who slept seven hours or more.
Another study from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine found a link between poor sleep during pregnancy and complications at birth, including low birth weight and pre-term birth. The study also found that women with depression were more likely to suffer from disturbed sleep, and vice versa; and the combination of the two increased the risk for birth complications.
Even knowing the importance of sleeping well during pregnancy, it’s easier said than done. Hormonal changes, discomfort, frequent bathroom trips, indigestion and anxiety can all disrupt the quality and quantity of sleep.
Also, some women experience sleep disorders during pregnancy which can cause health problems. Expectant mothers who experience sleep apnea, for example, may have high blood pressure, diabetes or even preeclampsia, and their babies may be smaller and not as healthy at the time of birth.
Here are some ways to improve sleep during pregnancy:
Good sleep during pregnancy is essential for you and your baby’s health. Talk with your doctor if your sleeplessness persists, if you start having breathing pauses during sleep, or if anxiety and stress are causing poor sleep.
What do you do to sleep better during pregnancy? Share your thoughts in the below comments!
Learn more about staying healthy during pregnancy.
Learn more about sleep disorders.
Diana Calero, MD is an OB-GYN with Edward Medical Group.
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