What Are the Consequences of Lack of Sleep During Pregnancy?

While pregnancy is a thrilling experience for many mothers-to-be, it is also scary in some ways. A lot of women suffer from bloating and leg cramps, and have to pee a lot more than normal. For others, sleep difficulties constitute a major complaint. Some studies indicate that about 80 percent of women complain of lack of sleep or insomnia during pregnancy. This may be more or less serious. But what are the effects of sleep deprivation on the mother and her unborn baby?

What Are the Consequences of Lack of Sleep During Pregnancy?

Maternal Complications

Lack of sleep has a negative impact on the health of an individual. In pregnant women, it increases the risk of hypertension and gestational diabetes. What causes the poor sleep? During pregnancy, chances of developing or worsening of snoring and sleep apnea increase, especially during the second and third trimesters. Sleep apnea affects up to 10 percent of pregnant women. The disruption of breathing during sleep can lead to:

A woman who is about 20-week pregnant with no history of high blood pressure is said to have high blood pressure if her blood pressure repeatedly measures 140mm Hg or higher.

If blood pressure is higher than usual and protein is also found in urine, this may be a sign of preeclampsia. This is one of the consequences of lack of sleep during pregnancy. Preeclampsia may lead to serious health complications for both mother and child, including organ injury and can sometimes be fatal.

Furthermore, chronic lack of sleep causes a change in the regulation of blood glucose levels, which can lead to obesity or changes in appetite. Persistent snoring during pregnancy is also associated with gestational diabetes while sleep apnea is associated with an increase in blood sugar levels.

Having neither quality nor quantity of sleep grossly affects an expectant mother’s mood, concentration, memory and in some cases, it can lead to depression.

Effects on the Developing Fetus

Usually, there’s nothing to worry about if you only experience occasional insomnia as your baby’s sleep patterns are independent of yours. However, long-term lack of sleep or fragmentation of deep sleep may lead to a reduction of the amount of growth hormone that is released. This hinders the baby’s growth.

While in the womb, a developing baby needs a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients. A slight disruption of both can lead to serious problems. Even a slight decrease in the mother’s oxygen levels causes decelerations in the heart rhythms and acidosis. Interestingly, blood flow to the fetus is at an optimum during sleep.

Insomnia or lack of sleep increases the risk of premature delivery, with studies showing that pregnant women who sleep less than six hours a night experience prolonged labor. They also have a 4.5 higher chance of undergoing caesarean section than their counterparts who get more than seven hours of sleep. Sleep deprivation also interferes with the normal progression of labor.

How to Get Enough Sleep During Pregnancy

The following tips will help you overcome the problem of insomnia during pregnancy:

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