How Hormones Change Sleep
As any pregnant woman can attest, there are dramatic hormonal changes that accompany pregnancy. These changes affect many aspects of the body and brain, including mood, physical appearance, and metabolism. The hormone changes also affect the pattern of sleep or sleep architecture.
Progesterone relaxes smooth muscle and may contribute to frequent urination, heartburn, and nasal congestionall of which may be disruptive to sleep. It also decreases wakefulness during the night and reduces the amount of rapid eye movement sleep, the state of sleep characterized by vivid dream imagery. In addition, it reduces the amount of time it takes to fall asleep.
Another important hormone in pregnancy, estrogen can also affect sleep if it makes blood vessels larger through a process called vasodilation. This may lead to swelling or edema in the feet and legs, and may also increase congestion of the nose and disrupt breathing during sleep. In addition, like progesterone, estrogen can decrease the amount of REM sleep.
Other hormones may also change during pregnancy, with varying effects. Studies have shown that melatonin levels are higher during pregnancy. Increased levels of prolactin in the body may lead to more slow-wave sleep.
During the night, higher levels of oxytocin may cause contractions that disrupt sleep. This increase in oxytocin may also lead to a higher incidence of labor and delivery during the night.
Keeping The Wrong Sleeping Position
The belly expands quite a bit and the uterus moves slightly upwards for more space during third trimester of pregnancy. Since the baby is much heavier by the third trimester, sleeping on the back can cause discomfort and restrict the flow of blood to the uterus. The best sleeping position during this time is to sleep on the left side of the body.
Breathe Deeply Before Bed
After a long, hard day, you probably expect to fall asleep quickly and stay that way throughout the night.But, all too often, the stress of the day and the expectations for tomorrow keep your mind running and your body on edge. That prevents you from drifting off to dreamland after you turn the lights out even when youre exhausted.Then, to make matters worse, failing to fall asleep when you know you should only adds to your anxiety and keeps you awake well past your bedtime.You can counteract this vicious cycle by focusing on a deep-breathing exercise to reduce stress before bed.Heres how you do it:
- Place the tip of your tongue against the spot where the back of your front teeth and your gums meet. Keep your tongue there while you practice the breathing.
- Exhale through your mouth while making a whooshing sound.
- Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose for a count of four.
- Hold your breath for a count of seven.
- Exhale through your mouth while making a whooshing sound for a count of eight.
- Thats one cycle. Repeat steps 3-5 at least three more times for a total of four cycles.
The benefits of this technique are three-fold:
- Breathing deep for the prescribed amount of time gives your brain something to focus on other than the big project at work.
- Breathing deep slows your heart rate.
- Breathing deep increases the amount of oxygen in your bloodstream and releases harmful carbon dioxide that can build up in your body.
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Cant Sleep While Pregnant
Certain hormonal changes, along with other pregnancy-related discomforts can sink a good nights sleep. Heres how to snooze more soundly.
This guide was originally published on May 22, 2019.
Like the perfect maternity outfit, sleep is something many pregnant women covet. My second and third pregnancies, for instance, were plagued with such bad morning sickness that I was left vomiting throughout the night. When that eased, my sons kicking became so intense that one particularly sharp jab in the middle of the night caused me to awake to soaked sheets Id peed all over my bed.
According to one study published in the journal Sleep Medicine in 2015, most women experience some type of sleep problem during pregnancy. Of the 2,427 women surveyed, for example, all reported frequent nighttime wakings while they were pregnant; nearly 60 percent reported insomnia; and about 80 percent found it difficult to find a comfortable sleeping position.
My patients always come to me in a panic because theyre worried about not sleeping, said Dr. Laura Riley, M.D., an ob-gyn at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City. But this sleep deprivation isnt harmful in any way to you or your baby. Your body will naturally protect itself and make sure you fall asleep eventually, Dr. Riley added. Youll get the rest you need.
What Are The Symptoms Of Restless Legs Syndrome
The main symptom is the overwhelming urge to move your legs. But you may also have uncomfortable and unpleasant sensations in your legs. Some people describe these as:
- a creepy-crawly sensation, like ants moving up and down the legs
- like fizzy water in the veins.
These sensations are often worse just below the knee and can sometimes be painful.
Your symptoms may be worse when youre resting and may feel better when you move. They may be worse in the evening or at night.
Restless legs syndrome can be very frustrating, but it should not affect your health or pregnancy. However, it can make it more difficult to get a good nights sleep.;;A lack of sleep wont hurt your baby, but it can make your day-to-day life a bit more difficult. We have some tips that may help you sleep better.
Restless legs syndrome caused by pregnancy usually develops during the third trimester . At this point, sleeping on your side is the safest thing to do for your baby because research shows it can reduce the risk of stillbirth.
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Mustela Cares About You
Mustela wants you to enjoy your pregnancy, and we know that good sleep is essential for your health and the health of your baby.If youre having trouble falling asleep or having trouble staying asleep throughout the night implement these tips into your daily and nightly routine.We suggest picking one or two of the ideas that most appeal to you and trying them out for a few nights. When youre comfortable with those, pick one or two more and add them to your regular activity.With time and practice, you can enjoy a restful and reinvigorating nights sleep through all nine months of your pregnancy.While youre trying new things to make your pregnancy experience the best it can be, consider adding Mustelas maternity skin care products to your routine for smooth, hydrated skin both day and night!
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What Is The Best Third Trimester Pregnancy Sleeping Position
Sleeping on your left side is easier said than done for those who are normally stomach or back sleepers. A pillow between the legs, tucked into the small of the back, or propping up your belly may ease the strain and help you feel more comfortable, and a strategic pillow wedged behind you may help you adjust to side sleeping. Some companies even make purpose-built positional therapy devices, pregnancy wedges, and body pillows that are designed with your needs in mind.
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Know When To Seek Help For Shortness Of Breath During Pregnancy
If you experience sudden, severe shortness of breath accompanied by chest pain, rapid breathing, or a much more rapid pulse, or severe chest pain while taking a deep breath, seek medical attention immediately. This could be a signal that a blood clot has dislodged and settled in your lungs a rare but serious problem.
Make Your Night Routine A Relaxing Event
A warm shower before bed can help your body relax and prepare you for a good nights sleep. A warm shower can also loosen a stiff neck and shoulders and improve circulation, making it easier to get to sleep.
Combining these activities not only gets you ready for bed, but it also helps reduce the appearance of stretch marks in the process.
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Hormones Problems And The Best Positions
Jason DelCollo, DO, board-certified in family medicine. He is associate faculty at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine as well as adjunct faculty with the Crozer Family Medicine Residency Program, and is an attending physician at Glen Mills Family Medicine in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania.
Whether you are in your first, second, or third trimester, or at the beginnings of labor, pregnancy can have profound effects on your ability to sleep. Hormone changes may alter the nature of a pregnant womans sleep.
Preexisting sleep difficulties may worsen, and new ones may show up with each phase of pregnancy, introducing new challenges. Review how to sleep best in pregnancy, including the role of hormones, possible solutions to sleep problems, and the best positions to relieve back pain and insomnia.
Strategy #2: Prop Yourself On Pillows Strategically
Many pregnant women experience heartburn, back pain, nasal congestion and even trouble breathing due to both the pressure of their expanding uterus and hormonal changes. While these conditions may be present during the day, you may notice them more at night because youre lying down and there are fewer things to distract you when youre resting.
You can often relieve these uncomfortable symptoms by simply propping yourself up with pillows so that youre sleeping at a 45-degree angle, said Dr. Sally Ibrahim, M.D., a sleep specialist at the Cleveland Clinic. You can also place a pillow between your bent knees while lying on your side to help relieve back pain, along with one under your stomach to support its weight and one behind your back to deter you from rolling over. Theres no need to spend money on a pricey pregnancy pillow, but if you cant find relief with the ones you have at home, you might consider a body pillow, advised Dr. Ibrahim. The Wirecutter, a New York Times company that does rigorous product reviews, recommends the Bluestone Full Body Contour U Pillow or the Snuggle-Pedic Memory Foam Body Pillow.
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Why Sleep Is Important During Your Second Trimester
The second trimester is your best chance at getting quality sleep before the baby comes, so its important to make this a priority. Inadequate sleep in the second trimester has been linked to gestational diabetes, stress, depression, and reduced quality of life. Sleep apnea, in particular, can be a risk factor for preterm delivery, preeclampsia, and gestational diabetes mellitus.
Is Excessive Sleeping During Pregnancy A Problem
Are you pregnant and exhausted? Growing a human is hard work, so its not surprising if you feel a little extra tired during your pregnancy! However, if you feel the need to sleep all the time, you may start to worry.
You know your doctor mentioned getting enough rest, but how much is that? Are you getting too much? Chances are you have some questions regarding the right amount of sleep during pregnancy.
Should you be concerned about excessive sleeping during pregnancy? What should you do if youre not feeling well rested? Dont worry, keep reading and well help you navigate your sleep-related pregnancy questions!
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Sleeping On Your Side
Sleeping on your side is often more comfortable than sleeping on your back – especially after about 16 weeks. Sleep on whichever side feels most comfortable.
Keep your knees and your legs bent, and try placing a pillow between your legs. You can also put a pillow under your abdomen to support your bump.
Sleeping on your side helps keep your baby safe. Research has shown that sleeping on your side, especially in the third trimester , helps to prevent stillbirth.
Dont worry if you wake up on your back. But it’s important to fall asleep on your side.
Experiment With Sitting And Sleeping Positions
Find positions that help you breathe more easily. Sitting in a straight chair using correct posture chest lifted, shoulders back is easier on the lungs than sitting slumped over in a recliner. Sleep semi-reclined, propped up on pillows. Or try elevating your head with an extra pillow while sleeping in the side-lying position.
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A Final Note On How To Sleep Better In Early Pregnancy
Pregnancy is a unique and special time as you prepare to meet your baby. Be gentle with yourself and your body as you change and grow into the parent youll soon be. Sleep is a vital part of your overall health at this time, helping reduce the anxiety of delivery and parenthood. A healthy approach to sleep will also give you and your baby the best chance at a safe, healthy delivery.
How Does Sleep Change In The Second Trimester
Most women find it much easier to sleep in the second trimester compared with the first and third trimesters. Stabilizing hormone levels give you a welcome break from morning sickness and tender breasts, and the baby isnt big enough yet to interfere drastically with sleep. Moreover, the uterus has moved further away from your bladder, reducing the frequency of trips to the bathroom.
On average, women tend to get around 7.5 hours of sleep per night in their second trimester. Our advice is to use this trimester wisely, preparing for the babys arrival but also prioritizing storing up energy reserves for the more taxing third trimester.
The second trimester brings a few sleep problems of its own. You may start to experience leg cramps and swollen feet, while weight gain and loosening ligaments in the pelvic area can cause lower back pain. Many pregnant women also have strange, vivid dreams and find that they tend to wake and fall asleep earlier, as in the first trimester. Headaches are also common, but most are benign like migraines and tension headaches. However, be sure to mention them to your care provider as they can sometimes indicate something more serious.
As the baby bump grows and the nasal passages start to get congested, the second trimester can sometimes bring increased snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. Constipation and heartburn also plague some women, although the latter is usually worse in the third trimester.
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Sleeping On Your Side During Pregnancy
Spending the night on your sidespecifically the left sideis the best sleep position during pregnancy. Thats to get all the weight of the uterus off the right side to optimize blood flow, Twogood says. Its also for the comfort of the mom. Sleeping on your right side can still compress the IVC and isnt as safe as being on your left, but using pillows to prop up the uterus so its not sliding to the right side can sometimes be an option, she adds.
Of course, if youve been a back or tummy snoozer all your life, changing to your left side can be hard. I fully recommend getting a pregnancy body pillow and getting it early, Twogood says. You want to optimize its use during pregnancy, playing with its positions and how it can support you best. You can also use it under your legs to decrease any hip or leg pain during sleep. If you still cant comfortably make the switch to your side, use pillows to prop yourself into an incline. Sleeping on your back at a 45-degree tilt can prevent a lot of the compression.
How To Sleep Better During Your Third Trimester
Through a combination of sleep hygiene, vitamin and mineral supplements, and safer sleeping positions, pregnant women can improve the quality and quantity of their sleep. Remember to always check with your healthcare provider before changing your routine or starting a new medication, and inform them immediately if you have symptoms that could indicate a serious condition.
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Your Babys Development In The 3rd Trimester Of Pregnancy
In the third trimester of pregnancy, your baby continues to grow, doubling in size during the last seven weeks. By the end of week 32, your little one may weigh about 4 pounds and be about 11 inches long, but by the time she’s born, she may weigh about 7 to 8 pounds. As your little one develops fat under her skin, she starts to look like the baby you expect to see at birth. By 34th week of 3rd trimester, she will have done such a good job of growing that she won’t have much room to move throughout the rest of the pregnancy.
During third trimester of pregnancy, she’s getting ready to meet you in so many other ways. Her eyelids are no longer fused, which means she can open and close them regularly. She develops the ability to see and hear, and she’ll react to stimuli such as the lights and sounds of the outside world. She’ll even be able to recognize your voice.
She’ll also begin to develop a sleep-wake cycle, and you may start to be aware of when she’s awake and moving and when she’s asleep and quiet. You may also notice periods of rhythmic movement that probably mean she has the hiccups.
In the third trimester of pregnancy, your baby now begins to suck her thumb or make sucking movements with her mouth, so that she’ll already have learned how to nurse by the time she’s born.
Sometime during the 9th month of pregnancy, she will probably settle into the head down position, and âdropâ more deeply into your pelvis in preparation for birth.
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