How to avoid insomnia during pregnancy? The tips you need

Are you pregnant and having trouble sleeping? Don’t you rest well and that affects you during the day? Does this happen to you more than 3 times a week? In this case, perhaps you suffer from insomnia during pregnancy. And it is that, during pregnancy, different sleep disorders can occur.

In this sense, according to studies, more than 85% of pregnant women experience changes in their sleep pattern at some point during their pregnancy. One of the most common disorders is insomnia during pregnancy. The typical symptoms in this case are: an increase in sleep latency (taking longer than usual to fall asleep that is, difficulties in falling asleep or insomnia of conciliation), nocturnal awakenings and little or no restful sleep.

In this article we describe the most common symptoms in this disorder (day and night), why it appears (its most common causes) and what you can do to avoid and prevent these causes. In addition, at the end of the article we mention some useful measures to promote a restful sleep.

What is insomnia?

  • But what really is insomnia? According to the International Classification of Sleep Disorders, published in 2014, insomnia is defined as: “a persistent difficulty in the onset of sleep, its duration, consolidation or quality, which occurs despite the appropriate circumstances and opportunities for it.” ”. It is also accompanied by significant discomfort, or deterioration in personal, social, academic, educational or work areas.
  • We should not confuse insomnia with other conditions, such as voluntary (or imposed) sleep deprivation or lack of sleep, or “complaint of poor sleep” (where there is no impairment of next-day functioning).
  • Thus, it should be clear what insomnia is and what is not; According to the Clinical Practice Guide for the Management of Patients with Insomnia in Primary Care, this is defined as “a state of hyper alertness or vigilance disorder that lasts 24 hours a day, for which difficulty sleeping is also characteristic during the day”.

Insomnia in pregnancy and its symptoms

  • During pregnancy our body changes a lot and hormones also undergo great changes in their levels, so it is normal that we do not sleep the same. But sleeping badly from time to time is not the same as suffering from insomnia during pregnancy. What really characterizes insomnia in pregnancy? How do we know that we suffer from insomnia in pregnancy? Through your symptoms.
  • We find different types of symptoms that could be indicating that we suffer from this disorder; nocturnal and daytime symptoms.
  • The most frequent nocturnal symptoms are the following:
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.
  • Waking up early (earlier than usual or desired), with inability to go back to sleep.
  • Frequent awakenings or difficulties to go back to sleep once awake.
  • Shallow and/or unrefreshing sleep.
  • These symptoms appear at least three nights a week.
  • And the daytime symptoms during insomnia in pregnancy? Among the most frequent we find:
  • Slight or pronounced feeling of fatigue (lack of energy and/or motivation).
  • Anxiety (restlessness, hyper arousal …)
  • Depression (deep sadness, feeling of emptiness, guilt, inability to enjoy …)
  • Dysphonia (unpleasant or annoying emotion, similar to restlessness, irritability or sadness).
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Difficulties in other cognitive functions, such as memory or executive functions (planning, organization, etc.)

Causes of insomnia during pregnancy

  • There are a number of frequent causes that explain insomnia in pregnancy. We explain what each of them consists of and how you could prevent them:Increased urinary frequency
  • In pregnancy you urinate much more frequently during the day and night. The main causes of it? The increase in the volume of fluids in the body and the increase in the volume of the uterus, which puts more and more pressure on the bladder.
  • However, it is still important to drink water during pregnancy so as not to lose hydration and to purify toxins from the body through urine. A trick to avoid urinating during the night (or to avoid urinating so much): do not drink just before going to bed.

Back pain

  • Another cause of insomnia in pregnancy is back pain (and other muscular discomfort). This type of discomfort can appear due to the increase in the volume of the uterus, which forces the body to find a new balance. Thus, during pregnancy, it is normal that at first the “ideal” sleeping position is not found, that one suffers punctures, cramps in the feet and legs…

Nausea and vomiting (especially during the first trimester of pregnancy)

  • This symptom appears mainly at night, which makes sleep extremely difficult. Some tips to control nausea: do not lie down right after meals, avoid heavy dinners and fatty foods or take gingerbread cookies (a natural remedy against nausea).

Fetal movements (during the third trimester)

  • Fetal movements (especially if they hurt, for example, the ribs), can also cause insomnia during pregnancy. The good news is that the baby can also relax at night, if the mother is also relaxed.

Gastro esophageal reflux

  • Gastro esophageal reflux also makes it difficult to sleep at night and consists of a burning sensation (heartburn) in the chest or throat. It is important to know that, during pregnancy, digestions tend to be longer and heavier, due to the smaller space in the stomach and the hormonal cocktail that we go through during pregnancy.
  • How to reduce this discomfort of reflux? Avoiding, again, copious or highly seasoned dinners, wearing baggy clothes or not eating just before going to bed.

Restless legs syndrome

  • Restless legs syndrome is a sleep disorder that causes an uncontrollable urge to move your legs, usually due to a feeling of discomfort. It appears mostly in the evening or at night, when one is sitting or lying down. The movement relieves the unpleasant sensation temporarily, but causes us to wake up with a sensation in our legs as if we had run a marathon.
  • It is estimated that this syndrome affects approximately 30% of pregnant women, and hormonal changes, iron deficiency or changes in the structure of the pelvis could partly explain its appearance. Any advice to avoid it? Do physical activity during the day.

The presence of snoring

  • Finally, snoring could also be one of the causes of insomnia in pregnancy, especially in the third trimester. If you suffer from loud and frequent snoring during the night (which can wake you up, making restful sleep difficult), it will be important to evaluate whether there is a problem with sleep apnea or other conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes.
  • Changes in the mucosa of the airways predispose to snoring, as well as to upper airway obstruction.

Tips to deal with insomnia in pregnancy

  • And you, are you pregnant and notice how your sleep has been affected by it? Do you think you could suffer from insomnia? Although it is not so easy to prevent insomnia during pregnancy, good sleep hygiene can help you reduce its probability of appearance.
  • Sleep hygiene encompasses a series of measures aimed at facilitating a deep and restful sleep. Among these measures we find: always going to sleep at the same time, resting in a place with an adequate ambient temperature, avoiding noise, avoiding copious dinners (light dinner), reducing or avoiding the use of screens two hours before going to sleep, avoiding stimulating substances during the day (such as tobacco, coffee or energy drinks) and exercising during the day (but not just before going to sleep).

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