How much sleep do you need when pregnant?
Do you find that you can’t sleep comfortably now that you're pregnant? Don’t worry, it’s normal - pregnancy can be a very tiring or exhausting time for your body. From increased progesterone production which slows you down as your uterus develops, to the lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels, pregnancy, especially the first and third trimester, takes a lot of energy from your body.
Still as your pregnancy progresses, the physically uncomfortable ‘growing pains’, the emotional stress associated with these changes to your body and lifestyle and hormones, result in discomforts that can lead to sleep disorders and keep you awake. So how much sleep do you need when you’re pregnant?
The importance of sleep during pregnancy
When you find out you are pregnant, you begin to prepare yourself mentally for how much your life is going to change. Not just in your home and your schedule, but your body as well. You often hear about morning sickness and eating for two, but how much sleep you need during pregnancy is not as popular a topic. Especially if you’re a first time mom, you may be surprised at how often you feel tired and how many sleep disturbances you have each night.
In the United States over 1 million pregnancies each year result in adverse outcomes that increase maternal and infant morbidity. The most frequent adverse outcomes include preeclampsia, intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), and preterm birth.
Our current lifestyle doesn’t usually allow us to get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep each night. However, sleep is an important necessity - and especially when you’re pregnant. In fact more rest and sleep is needed during pregnancy. Researchers have found that not getting enough sleep during pregnancy could affect you beyond the daily exhaustion, irritability and poor concentration - labor could be longer, there is the risk of developing chronic diseases and adverse pregnancy outcomes can develop. According to the study, “In the United States over 1 million pregnancies each year result in adverse outcomes that increase maternal and infant morbidity. The most frequent adverse outcomes include preeclampsia, intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), and preterm birth.”
This is why many experts recommend you get at least eight hours of sleep at night when you’re pregnant. You should also include daytime naps if possible, as long as it doesn’t affect your sleep at night.
Why it’s not easy to sleep during pregnancy
The farther along you are in your pregnancy, the more difficult it can be for you to get eight to ten hours of sleep per night. This is because of the many physical and emotional changes at this stage. Anxiety and excitement about being a mom or adding to your family can be daunting to some and keep you awake. Fear of the unknown or about the delivery can cause insomnia. There are the frequent trips to the bathroom at night. And it can also be difficult to find a position that is comfortable for you to sleep , especially if you are a stomach sleeper. All of these factors add up to make you more tired than usual.
Sleep Changes when you’re pregnant
One thing you should be aware of is that your sleep habits will change dramatically during pregnancy. There are different sleep patterns during each trimester. Here's what you can expect in terms of sleep changes for each of the three trimesters of pregnancy.
Sleep changes during your pregnancy - first trimester
You will notice that your sleep pattern changes each trimester of pregnancy, and often depends on outside factors like stress, your emotional state, diet, and chronic pain.
The first trimester, it can include a lot of waking up in the middle of the night to use the restroom. After the first few weeks of pregnancy, you urinate more frequently, often linked to needing to hydrate more than usual. THis does not mean that you shouldn’t hydrate though. Being hydrated is very important for you and your growing baby. This can continue throughout your entire pregnancy, though there might be certain stages where it isn’t quite as noticeable.
During the first trimester, you might be even more tired during the day and at night, so you could sleep more than usual. You may have difficulty sleeping though, when you start experiencing difficult physical changes, especially if you start getting ‘morning’ sickness, which can happen at any time of day or night. To help reduce the discomfort from nausea, you can try using all-natural anti-nausea wrist bands. These work on the principle of acupressure, and are scientifically proven to help you feel better.
Sleep changes during your pregnancy - second trimester
Many women describe the second trimester as the best trimester. This is when the frequent urination isn’t quite as frequent, you are tired but not overly so, and your morning sickness might dissipate as well. Take advantage of how much better you feel, and especially of how much better you sleep!
You might notice that your overall quality of sleep is improved. You feel more rested at night, don’t have as much discomfort from nausea or cramping, and your emotional stress is often less severe during this trimester. If you are experiencing insomnia, it is a good time to speak with your doctor, just to rule out any other causes for it.
Sleep changes during your pregnancy - third trimester
The third trimester is a beautiful time as you feel more movement from your baby and get closer to labor and delivery, but your sleep might suffer once again. A lot of the sleep issues during this trimester are from body aches and pains. You are growing a human, and that means a lot of pressure is being put on your back and hips.
You might notice that you have to wake up a lot at night to change positions, have chronic back pain, and maybe even some cramping. You might also notice other physical discomforts that keep you from getting quality sleep, like heartburn, shortness of breath, leg cramps, increased urination, and sinus congestion.
The best thing you can do is try to be as comfortable as possible at night, whether that means upgrading your mattress, getting different bedding, or using a body pillow to help support your body and decrease the cramps and back pain. Soon you will have a brand new baby to love, so try to take advantage of as much sleep as possible during your pregnancy.