"Sleep as much as you can while you're pregnant," said a many to pregnant women. It's good, practical advice, but it's not so easy to do. Sleep and pregnancy may not always go well together because of the many changes in your body plus the constant worrying about what the future holds. You're lucky to get at least six hours of quality sleep on most days. It's so much easier just to skip the shut-eye altogether as well when you have a lot of things to do. But remember, it's not just you now, and this new study is a good reminder that pregnant women need to talk to their doctor if they are not sleeping well.
A new study, published in Obstetrics & Gynecology, sought to examine the effect of insomnia during pregnancy. Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) looked at data from 2,265 pregnant women and the relationships between the different types of sleep disorders and the subtypes of preterm births.
Compared to pregnant women with no sleeping issues, women with insomnia had in 30 percent increased risk to deliver pre-term, while women with sleep apnea, a breathing disorder, had a 40 percent higher chance of having a preemie. The study also showed that the odds of early preterm birth -- before 34 weeks -- was more than double for women with sleep apnea and nearly double for women with insomnia.
"The women who had a diagnosis of a sleep disorder recorded in their medical record most likely had more severe presentations," senior study author Aric Prather, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry at UCSF, said in a statement. Researchers believe more preggos exprience serious sleep problems due to discomfort, pain or frequent trips to the bathroom, Reuters reported. But it's also often underdiagnosed because screening for sleeping issues isn't routine.
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Jennifer N. Felder, lead study author and postdoctoral researcher in psychology at the UCSF, says lack of sleep does not directly cause the premature birth, but it could trigger processes, such as inflammation, that could lead you to the delivery room early. "Women having sleep problems that are severe, impairing and distressing, it’s important to talk to their health care providers," she told The New York Times.
The next step for the researchers is to find out if cognitive behavioral therapy is a safe and effective option to address sleep issues for preggos since it does not require taking medication. It would also help gauge how much poor sleep really affects preterm births.
There are many factors, such as weight gain, age, high blood pressure, diabetes, which could also affect sleep quantity and quality. These could result to pregnancy complications as well. If you're pregnant and having difficulty sleeping, you can try the following:
- Sleep on your left side, as many doctors suggest. Pregnancy pillows help a lot!
- Have a bedtime ritual that relaxes you.
- Refrain from eating or drinking a lot of fluids near bedtime, so you won't have to pee as often.
- Stay away from gadgets. The blue light from smartphones does not help.
If you're still having serious sleep problems, discuss it with you doctor or a sleep specialist.
Read more about hwo to get better sleep during pregnancy here and here.