Why do sleep problems suddenly begin or increase in severity for pregnant women? There are many physical and emotional factors that may contribute to sleep difficulties during pregnancy. Learn why you might not be enjoying the sweet slumber that you need now more than ever.
According to a poll by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), 78 percent of women reported more disturbed sleep during pregnancy than at other times. Physical and emotional changes account for most of the difficulty. These are some of the reasons you might be losing sleep:
Have you found yourself with a newfound ability to snore loudly? You're not alone! The NSF reports that approximately 30 percent of pregnant women snore because of increased swelling in their nasal passages. The snoring occurs because the swelling partially obstructs the airways. But snoring during pregnancy is no joke. According to the NSF, snoring can lead to high blood pressure, putting mother and child at risk.
In severe cases of airway blockage, a condition called sleep apnea may occur. People with sleep apnea often snore loudly, and there are brief instances during which breathing actually stops. According to the NSF, the lack of oxygen can prevent you from getting the sleep you need, and could potentially harm your baby. If you're snoring loudly at night, and find yourself tired from a poor night's sleep, don't delay consulting with your doctor about it.
A little-known sleep disturbance called Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) often begins or worsens during pregnancy. In fact, according to the NSF, up to 15 percent of pregnant women develop RLS during the third trimester.
But what is RLS and why is it a problem? In RLS, you experience crawling or moving feelings in your foot, calf, or upper leg that can momentarily disrupt sleep. If you move your legs, the symptoms are momentarily eased. But as soon as your leg is still, the annoying sensations return. It may sound trivial, but if you experience this repeatedly over the course of a whole night, you probably won't get much sleep.
People who are not pregnant also experience this syndrome, and there are medications to treat it. Unfortunately, these medications aren't safe to use during pregnancy. Luckily, the symptoms of pregnancy-onset RLS usually diminish or vanish after pregnancy. If you're being plagued by these symptoms, see your doctor for advice. Also try to take frequent naps to make sure you're getting the rest you need.
Each trimester brings its own unique changes, including changes in sleep. According to NSF, these are the most common sleep changes that may occur in each trimester:
Source: National Sleep Foundation
All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.