During pregnancy, insomnia is common and many factors conspire to cause disruption to sleep such as hormonal changes bodily discomforts, mood swings and anxiety. Even if you had never had a sleepless night in your life, let alone suffered from insomnia, pregnancy will change all that and it doesn’t get better after birth as the new born baby’s demands takes precedence over you’re 7 to 8 hours of blissful sleep.
About a third of all mothers to be, snore during pregnancy and if it is heavy and persistent medical advice should be sought. Severe snoring is a sign of potentially high blood pressure.
There’s a further risk for very overweight women or women who put a lot of weight on during pregnancy of developing sleep apnea, where a drop in blood oxygen at night can be a sign of complications for the baby
Restless Leg Syndrome
About 20 percent of women during pregnancy develop restless leg syndrome (RLS) a symptom of iron deficiency or low folate levels or both. It’s important to increase your intake of iron, folate and vitamin B12 before and during pregnancy.
Anywhere up to 80 percent of women get the mild form of postnatal depression often referred to as the “baby blues” soon after delivery and lasting for a couple of weeks. The more serious mood disorder however, can occur anytime within 6 months after birth, which is often why it is not readily identified, and can cause further problems to the already disrupted sleep patterns.
Tips to overcome insomnia in pregnancy.
- Increase your intake of folate, iron and vitamin B12.
- Exercise regularly and keep weight in check.
- Hydrate during the day at regular intervals easing off at night.
- If you suffer from heart burn try sleeping with the bed head elevated.
- Nap during the day to relieve daytime fatigue.
- Adjust your bed position according to your stage of pregnancy.
- In the third trimester try to sleep on your left side allowing improved blood flow to the foetus, uterus and kidneys.
Sleeping techniques that help
As with any other sleep disrupter there are remedies at hand that can at least alleviate some of the problems associated with sleep deprivation. Insomnia in pregnancy is something that can’t be cured, just because of the enormous disruption it causes but there are certain sleeping techniques that makes the most out of time available to you as an expectant mother and as a practising parent. These sleeping techniques include relaxation methods such as breathing, meditation and yoga as well as other holistic approaches.
They sleep an awful lot and it’s a very active sleep made up of around 50 percent REM.
There is much written about developing sleep patterns in babies and infants but each child will develop his own pattern as he grows.
Babies should preferably be put to bed when they are sleepy after plenty of light and play during the day rather than when they are asleep.
Infancy to teenagers
At between 5 and 12 children need about 10 to 12 hours of sleep to be able to function and develop during the waking hours. Whilst they are developing interruptions to their sleep patterns can take the form of stimulants such as computer game and television as well as the other forms of stimulants found in food and drink like excess sugar and caffeine.
Continued sleep disturbances can lead to poor learning, mood disorders and hyperactivity. They may also be more likely to start showing signs of sleep apnoea, narcolepsy and sleep walking.
A consistent bedtime routine is the order of the day.
In adolescence teenagers require slightly less sleep but quite often develop a phase shift in their sleeping habits or the first signs of delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS).
It may be harder for parents but again a consistent bedtime routine is important.
More than not, of course the phase shift is more likely due to behaviour reasons such as school schedule and social activities.
DSPS is a circadian rhythm disorder and the likely sleeping pattern would be getting to bed at between 2am and 6am and rising between 10am and 1pm. The tendency would be not to be hungry in the morning but to eat in the evening.
Apart from common sense measures in getting your child back into a more normal pattern of sleep light therapy can be tried
This is where bright light is scheduled for the early morning and strong light is avoided after sunset.
Light exposure is more effective when combined with exercise.
Switch the computer off in the evening or at least move it out of his bedroom if at all possible.
And beyond. So the kids have all grown up and flown the nest
Women’s sex hormones, oestrogen and progesterone play a large part in the pattern of sleep especially in regard to the circadian rhythms. The hormones play a role in regulating the menstrual cycle and women often report 2 or 3 days of sleep disturbance. Although women are more likely to suffer from insomnia prior to menopause than men generally, they are less likely to suffer from sleep apnea.
The menopause occurs between around 40 and 58 with the decrease in production of oestrogen and progesterone. Sleep disturbance and daytime fatigue are the most common complaints during the menopause. Other symptoms include hot flushes and night sweats. Any elevation of body or room temperature will have the tendency for sleep interruptions.
Well at least you no longer have the worries of trying to sleep during pregnancy, when the baby is crying, when the toddler is scared by nightmares and when the teenager is keeping you up whilst he is socially networking at 2am.
You can at least relax with a few drops of essential oils in a warm bath with the ambient fragrance of a candle wafting from the bedroom. But that’s a topic for another article.