Are you pregnant and exhausted? Growing a human is hard work, so it’s 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.
It can be difficult sleeping whilst you are pregnant, a number of issues can interrupt sleep including the frequent need to urinate, abdominal discomfort, back pain and shortness of breath, among others. Disruptive sleep during pregnancy can be dangerous; a recent study has shown that oversleeping can be dangerous to the growth of a fetus too.
Louise O’Brien, a research associate Professor in the Neurology Sleep Disorders Center and in Obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Michigan and her team were able to link a period of undisturbed sleep to still birth, independent of other risk factors. She pointed out that blood pressure reaches its lowest point during sleep but surges upon awakening, causing a brief, temporary increase. These short-lived rises in blood pressure may prevent extended periods of low blood pressure, which has been linked to fetal growth problems, preterm birth and stillbirth.
What is meant by excessive sleeping during pregnancy?
What might be described as excessive might differ from person to person, and it also depends on your typical sleep needs and habits.
The amount of quality sleep necessary for good health varies by age. Between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each day is recommended at the age most women find themselves pregnant. (Genetics and quality of sleep can affect these numbers, but this is a good general guideline for how much shut-eye is needed.)
If you find yourself routinely sleeping upwards of 9 to 10 hours straight and you’re getting good quality sleep, this might be a sign that you’re getting excessive sleep. However, if you’re up several times during the night or have disturbed sleep patterns, you may need to spend more time in bed resting than normal.
It has been posited that there may be risks to excessive sleep in your third trimester. A study suggests, women who slept for more than 9 continuous hours without disturbance and routinely had non-restless sleep in the last month of their pregnancy had a greater instance of stillbirth.
However before you start setting alarms to wake you every few hours; it’s important to note that this study has been contested by scientists who feel that the longer, non-restless nights were the result of decreased fetal movement and not the cause of the stillbirths.
While you may not want to sleep too much, it can be worth it to spend at least 8 hours in bed, as there are some potential benefits to getting sufficient sleep during the late stages of your pregnancy.
What problems can affect sleep during pregnancy or cause excessive sleeping?
There are many reasons why your sleep may look different during pregnancy. Some potential causes include:
- Hormonal changes: During the first trimester, your blood pressure and blood sugar levels decrease, potentially leading to feelings of fatigue. Increasing progesterone levels during this period can also lead you to want more sleep.
- Restless leg syndrome Trusted Source: Many pregnant women experience some unpleasant nights due to a need to move their legs. It might be triggered by rising estrogen levels or a lack of folic acid and iron.
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): A muscular ring at the bottom of your esophagus opens to let food into your stomach. In women with GERD, this ring will stay loose and allow food and liquid back up into the throat. Pregnancy can lead to GERD, as the extra pressure on the stomach area can hinder the ring’s proper closure.
- Insomnia: Especially in the first and third trimesters, you may find yourself spending lots of time in bed, but not getting good sleep. One reason for insomnia is pregnancy-related aches and pains. Heightened levels of stress and anxiety around giving birth and caring for a child can also lead you to be up long past your normal bedtime.
- Sleep apnea: Talk to your doctor right away if your breathing is restricted while sleeping. One review Trusted Source found that some women develop sleep apnea during pregnancy, potentially due to hormonal and physiological changes. While it may resolve after pregnancy, it can be linked to a variety of other health concerns, so it’s important to get this checked out!
- Frequent urination: By the third trimester, you may find yourself waking up several times a night to use the bathroom. Well, you can thank your growing baby for putting extra pressure on your bladder. You can try to limit your fluid intake right before bedtime to help with this, but remember that you don’t want to become dehydrated!
Feeling fatigued during your pregnancy is commonplace; it is a usual pregnancy symptom, particularly at the beginning and end of your pregnancy.
However, if you always feel like you’re getting poor sleep or are finding yourself needing to sleep at all hours of the day; it may be time to speak with your doctor. They can make sure that no underlying medical conditions are causing this!