Insomnia during pregnancy can occur for many reasons. Hormone surges, middle-of-the-night trips to the bathroom, leg cramps, and discomfort from a growing belly are just a few reasons why you may lose sleep while pregnant. The good news is that your lack of sleep should not affect your baby. The bad news is that insomnia, in addition to the normal fatigue that accompanies pregnancy, can significantly decrease your ability to function. It can also persist throughout pregnancy, although sleep disturbances are most commonly reported in the first and third trimesters.
More than 1.5 million Americans use complementary and alternative therapies to treat insomnia. Many people choose herbal and dietary supplement remedies. (Valerian and melatonin are among the most popular alternative remedies for insomnia.) Some, such as chamomile tea or lemon balm, are generally harmless for most people. Others have more serious side effects and interactions.
I just keep doing things at night rather than go to bed. I don’t wind down and go to bed, even though I pass the logical hour that would assure I get adequate sleep. I feel tired the next day and wish I had gotten more sleep. Why is there a disconnect for some people? The night owl doesn’t recognize there is a morning to deal with. — Tara Lawrence, Los Gatos, Calif.
As a result, patients often become obsessive about their sleep or try too hard to fall asleep. These dysfunctional beliefs often produce sleep disruptive behaviors, such as trying to catch up on lost sleep with daytime naps or sleeping in, which in turn reduces the patients’ natural homeostatic drive to sleep at their habitual bedtime. Learned sleep-preventing associations are characterized by overconcern about inability to fall asleep.
Insomnia and Depression. Although stress and depression are major causes of insomnia, insomnia may also increase the activity of the hormones and pathways in the brain that can produce emotional problems. Even modest alterations in waking and sleeping patterns can have significant effects on a person”s mood. Persistent insomnia may even predict the future development of emotional disorders. Some investigators are exploring the possibility of preventing psychiatric disorders by early recognition and treatment of insomnia.
Sleep hygiene involves changing current health practices and environmental factors that may interfere with sleep. This includes avoiding caffeine and alcohol for 4 to 6 hours before bedtime, avoiding heavy or spicy meals before bedtime. Use the bed for sleep and sexual activity only, remove the TV from the bedroom. Keep the sleep environment dark, quiet, cool, and comfortable. People with insomnia tend to look frequently at the clock – this may only serve to heighten anxiety and worsen the insomnia. Exercise regularly, as little as 20 minutes, three times a week, can promote better sleep, although this should not be done too close to bedtime.
This sometimes occurs in people who snore, most commonly in obese people. In this condition the large airways narrow or collapse as you fall asleep. This not only causes snoring, but also reduces the amount of oxygen that gets to the lungs. This causes you to wake up to breathe properly. You may wake up many times each night which may result in daytime tiredness. See separate leaflet called Obstructive Sleep Apnoea for details. Note: most people who snore do not have sleep apnoea, and do sleep well.