Sleepless in pregnancy

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: July 24th, 2006
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

You’re pregnant. You can’t sleep. No problem. Everyone says it’s normal. But new research shows a lack of ZEEs during pregnancy might not be normal.

In fact, experts say, sleeping poorly may trigger or worsen anxiety and depression, create tension in relationships, weaken mother-child bonding even delay a woman’s return to work.

To see how pregnancy affects sleep, researchers ask moms-to-be to wear at-home activity monitors on their wrists. The monitors track sleep patterns that can trigger fatigue, affect mood and signal sleep disorders.

One study monitored thirty-three healthy women near the beginning, middle and end of pregnancy. For many, extreme fatigue and daytime sleepiness were the first signs they’re pregnant even before morning sickness. As pregnancy progresses, they slept more. But they also awakened more as they tried to find a comfortable sleeping position a challenge because of breast tenderness, low back pain, leg cramps and fetal position and movement. By the last few weeks, the women slept even less and lay awake for eleven percent of their time in bed twice as much as the five-percent “awake time” of typical healthy young adults.

Other studies identified serious sleep robbers like restless legs syndrome a sensation that something’s crawling on the legs which twenty-five percent of moms-to-be report, and snoring which can lead to dangerous sleep apnea.

So how do moms-to-be get the sleep they need? Remember, daytime naps don’t make up for sleepless nights. Tell your doctor about your sleep problems, and try to sleep for two.