Women stricken with unchecked insomnia during pregnancy may be at a greater risk of experiencing complications.
Insomnia is not merely defined as trouble falling or staying asleep every once in a while. Healthcare and sleep experts classify chronic insomnia as the inability to fall asleep for at least three nights per week over a period of no less than three months. In addition to these major sleeping difficulties, afflicted individuals might also witness the occurrence of other potentially serious physical manifestations such as fatigue, cognitive challenges (memory loss, concentration difficulties) and mood swings. This condition is believed to have many different social, physical, and mental causes.
The Impact of Insomnia During Pregnancy
Expecting mothers experience numerous physical changes that might precipitate the onset of transient cases of insomnia. These include back, leg or abdominal aches caused by increased baby weight, increased urinary frequency, and the nausea and vomiting brought on by motion sickness. Additionally, the natural anxiety expecting women may feel during the course of their terms may also prevent them from obtaining a sufficient amount of sleep.
Though incidents of insomnia are somewhat normal for soon-to-be mothers, a continued lack of sleep could lead to potentially significant health concerns for both woman and unborn child. Expecting women coping with insomnia may be at a greater risk of developing serious complications like sleep apnea, high blood pressure, pulmonary hypertension (elevated blood pressure inside the lungs) and gestational diabetes. Furthermore, a continual lack of sleep could ultimately lead to cardiovascular problems that threaten normal blood flow to the placenta, which could place an unborn baby’s health in serious danger.
Findings Connecting Undisturbed Sleep to a Decreased Risk of Stillbirth
Despite the dangers of insomnia, scientific research conducted shows that expecting women who receive several hours of undisturbed rest each evening might in fact significantly decrease their risk of experiencing late-term stillbirth (when a child dies in its mother’s womb and is delivered after its passing).
A team of international researchers led by the University of Michigan recently tested the above hypothesis. Scientists studied questionnaires completed by more than 150 women who had experienced later-term stillbirth and roughly 500 women who were currently in their third trimester or whom had given birth recently. These researchers discovered that those who slumbered undisturbed for at least nine hours experienced decreased incidents of stillbirth.
These findings aside, researchers caution that significantly more research will be needed before any actual conclusions can be drawn. Researchers stressed that the risks chronic insomnia pose to would-be mothers and their babies are far greater than those associated with undisturbed rest and the possibility of stillbirth.
Tips Expecting Women Can Employ to Battle Insomnia
Would-be mothers might alleviate or possibly eliminate occurrences of insomnia by employing at least a few of the following therapeutic suggestions:
Healthcare professionals suggest engaging in as much physical activity as possible. Naturally, pregnant women should carefully craft and monitor their participation. However, exercise relaxes muscles and tires the body, which often induces better quality rest.
Practice Relaxation Techniques
Relaxation techniques such as yoga and tai chi are designed to help calm the mind and body. Additionally, women who partake in childbirth classes might be taught additional relaxation exercises.
Ensure Sleep Settings Are as Tranquil as Possible
Expecting women afflicted with insomnia are encouraged to find their comfort levels prior to retiring to bed. Such a task might be accomplished by adjusting the bedroom thermostat to a favorable temperature, making sure the room is as dark as possible, sleeping with extra blankets and pillows, or playing music or other calming sounds.
Though beverages like coffee and tea might hit the spot in the evening, the caffeine contained in these items might contribute to incidents of insomnia.
Speak with a Healthcare Professional
In certain instances, insomnia may be precipitated by an underlying health issue. A doctor can render such a diagnosis and initiate the proper treatment plan.