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Sleep tight: fighting insomnia during pregnancy

20 APRIL 2010

A good night's sleep is vital for everyone. It restores the mind and body and allows you to be 100 percent the next day.

Depending on the person, seven to nine hours of shuteye are recommended, but for many pregnant women, that seems like an impossible dream. Some find it difficult to fall asleep, while others wake up frequently during the night, leaving them feeling more exhausted rather than rested in the morning.

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There are various causes of insomnia during pregnancy. The hormone that leaves women feeling weak during the day can also make it hard to catch some Z's at night. Difficulty finding a comfortable position, the need to use the bathroom repeatedly, and the presence of anxiety can produce sleepless nights as well.

Expectant mothers also commonly suffer from nightmares related to the pregnancy and upcoming birth. These bad dreams usually stem from the woman's preoccupation with her unborn baby, because anxiety can give free rein to the imagination, sometimes in a negative way.

Insomnia leads to the development of irregular sleeping habits, like dozing off during the day, which can lead a soon-to-mum to feel hopeless and turn to self-medication, which should never be done, especially during pregnancy.

"The presence of anxiety or stress during pregnancy can impact the baby's development," says Veronica Minguit Orellano, a speech therapist and specialist in early childhood intervention.

"For this reason, the mother has to create a peaceful and positive environment. In the case of extreme anxiety, it's advisable to turn to a specialist to overcome this state."

Tips for avoiding insomnia:


Try to maintain a routine with a regular sleep and wake schedule
Slumber in a noise-free bedroom with a good mattress and comfortable pillow
Use the bed only to sleep, and not to read, watch television or work on a laptop
Maintain a balanced diet
Create a before-bed routine like taking a shower, drinking a glass of warm milk or listening to calming music, which also benefits the baby
Avoid stimulants like caffeine
If you can't fall asleep, get out of bed and try doing something else in a different room. When you feel tired again, return to bed.
Try to sleep on your left side to improve blood pressure, which can help prevent swelling in the feet
Do not drink a lot of liquid before going to bed

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