Sleep and Pregnancy
Why Sleep is Important During Pregnancy
There are many joys of pregnancy. Unfortunately, getting enough sleep usually isn’t one of them. You would think that with the raging hormones and exhaustion you would have no problems getting as much sleep as much as you need, but that’s not always the case.
Why You Need Sleep
Sleep is one of the essential building blocks your body and baby needs for a healthy pregnancy, and a healthy baby. Sleep, together with a healthy diet, moderate exercise, and drinking plenty of water, allows your body to refresh itself, making sure that you have enough energy to perform daily tasks as well as not stressing the baby. Lack of sleep can cause (among other things):
- Emotional Stress. Your hormones are fluctuating by the minute as it is, and lack of sleep can cause you to be even more stressed – which can make you (even more) emotional and ‘stressed out’.
- Mental Fatigue. Memory loss, inability to focus on a project for any period of time (even compiling a shopping list may seem like a monumental task) and forgetfulness are all things most pregnant women suffer from. Lack of sleep, however, can make these symptoms even worse.
- Morning Sickness Symptoms. Morning sickness symptoms, such as nausea, and other intestinal discomforts, can be caused, or worsened, by a lack of sleep.
- Headaches or Dizziness. Your body is working overtime 'constructing' your baby during your pregnancy. If your body doesn't get necessary downtime, headaches and light-headedness (or dizziness) might be you body's way of telling you to take a break - especially if you're not eating well, or drinking enough water.
- General Physical Problems. Just like non-pregnant people, being worn down makes you more susceptible to colds, flu, and viruses.
- Depression. The 'baby blues' are not uncommon during pregnancy. However, lack of sleep can have a significant impact on your mental health and ability to cope with everyday situations or crisis. Sometimes good sleeping habits are all a pregnant mom-to-be needs to regain her positive (or at least not-so-depressed) look on life.
- Lack of Sleep Could Mean Longer Labor. Reducing your labor time may be all the incentive you need to make sure you're sleeping! A University of California San Francisco study published in 2004 found that women who have less sleep in late pregnancy may face significantly longer labor, and an increase in c-sections. The study found women who averaged less than six hours per night had an average labor of 29 hours. Women who slept an average of seven or more hours a night experienced an average labor of 17.7 hours.
- Crankiness, Irritability and Mood Swings. While these are all ‘normal’ in any pregnancy, the frequency and degree (or severity) can be directly related to sleep – or lack thereof.