It’s not easy to get a good night’s sleep when you’re pregnant. But it seems that sleep during pregnancy may be pretty important. A new study in the Journal Sleep links poor sleep habits in the first trimester with high blood pressure in the third trimester. Most concerning is the link between less than five hours of sleep at night and a tenfold increase in risk for pre-eclampsia. This dangerous condition is one of the leading causes of premature birth and maternal death during pregnancy.
The study also recorded higher blood pressure in women who got marginally less sleep than recommended. Strangely enough, this increase was also found in women who got more sleep than average during the first trimester. Women who slept for more than ten hours were at equally raised risk as women who slept less than six hours.
My own first trimesters definitely fell into this so called “too much sleep” camp. I was so exhausted, I was taking three or four hour naps on a regular basis. Heck, I would have slept through my entire first trimester if I could have.
So if you happen to have gotten too much or too little sleep early on in pregnancy, how do you keep worry about this from keeping you up at night?
First of all realize that the risk for heavy sleepers, as well as for those who slept between five and six hours a night, is not all that much higher than those in the optimal sleep window (6-10 hours). We’re talking about an increase of a few percentage points—not the ten times higher risk of pre-eclampsia women who get fewer than five hours face.
If you slept a lot, you probably did it for a good reason. Pregnant women are usually encouraged to rest up first trimester to help their bodies rest from the internal efforts of increasing blood flow and growing the placental organ. And morning sickness is not much inspiration to move from a horizontal position, either.
If you slept too little, you probably didn’t do it by choice. Sleep problems during pregnancy are incredibly common.
Try not to let these findings stress you out about how much or how little sleep you’re getting. But feel free to use them to try to get more sleep. If you do find that your clocked sleep is hovering close to or below the five hour mark on a regular basis, speak to your healthcare provider about what to do about it. There are lots of options for improving your sleep during pregnancy. I recently posted some tips to help with pregnancy insomnia and other pregnancy sleep problems.
Check those out here: