A good night’s sleep is essential for a healthy life. But for most working people, sleep is often a luxury, especially with hectic lifestyles and deadlines. But the benefits of sleep cannot be stressed enough, especially during pregnancy. After all, while you may eat for two, you are also sleeping for two. Here are 11 surprising health benefits of a good sleep during pregnancy.
11 Amazing Health Benefits of Sleep During Pregnancy
A Healthy life
To you, sleeping may appear as a good way to rest after a long day’s work. But your body looks at it as an opportunity to work towards making your body system healthier, and does so by completely devoting energy to your body processes. Poor sleep has been long associated as a factor in diabetes, obesity, a host of cardiovascular diseases, and even poor digestion. The health benefit of sleep is thus simply this —it leads to an overall healthy life, and prepares you to welcome a new life.
Be well-rested and energized
The first trimester is often associated with fatigue and low energy levels. The solution to this is accepting your body’s demand for more sleep. Remember that you are not just sleeping for yourself but sleeping for two. Your body requires more energy to not only sustain your body system but also to create living conditions for your growing foetus. And one can just not stress enough on the benefits of good sleep during this time. It is crucial that you manage to sleep for eight to nine hours at a time, to avoid feeling fatigued throughout the day.
Sleep is crucial for your body system to rejuvenate after a long day’s work. But a lack of sleep could affect one’s cognitive processes and impair the ability of ‘selective attention’ —this simply means that not sleeping could affect your brain’s ability to focus. Pregnancy brain is a development that occurs in 82 percent of women, and makes forgetfulness and absentmindedness a common thing. Sleeping well enables to declutter your mind and rest well.
Researches have shown that reduced sleep during the first trimester could increase the risk of high blood pressure in the third trimester. High blood pressure or hypertension during pregnancy is associated with a host of birth-related complications, including pre-eclampsia and HELLP (acronym for hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelet count) which could be of high risk for the mother and child. Hypertension also affects the growth rate of the baby.
Studies have shown that there could be a link between the duration of sleep and pre-eclampsia. Pre-eclampsia is a complication in pregnancy that is mostly rooted in hypertension and damages to organs such as liver and kidney. It can also affect the uterine wall and placental activity and is known to result in premature birth. Researchers have identified that women who developed pre-eclampsia also had low sleep duration in their pregnancies, while those engaging in regular sleep patterns saw a reduced risk of pre-eclampsia.
Sleep allows the body to produce proteins called cytokines, which are responsible for warding off diseases. The problem begins with shortened sleep that could reduce the increasing levels of cytokines, and in fact, destroy even healthy cells in the body which inhibits the entire process of immunity-building.
Research from Brown University and the University of California has linked sleep disorders with an increase in pre-mature birth. Preterm or premature birth is often not desirable, for it can lead to difficulty in the digestion of food and immunity building, and has also been identified as a cause for infant mortality. The risk of premature birth is often heightened by hypertension and pre-eclampsia, often attributed to stress and lack of sleep. While a definite cause of this correlation has not been found, doctors do suggest a healthy pattern of sleep to prevent the risk of premature birth.
Researchers from the University of California have released studies that show that women who slept for less than 6 hours experienced labour for a longer time, and were 4.5 times likely to undergo caesarean section. In fact, women who slept for less than 6 hours of experienced labour for twenty-nine hours, as compared to the seventeen hours of labour for women who slept for at least seven hours. This is a significant difference and exemplifies the need to sleep during pregnancy.
Maintains progesterone levels
Experiencing fatigue and dizziness in the early months of pregnancy is a common feature, and plays a role in how your body prepares itself to carry a baby. Progesterone is a hormone responsible for maintaining the uterine lining, and it is the low progesterone level that results in menstruation. This hormone is crucial in carrying a baby to full term, and low levels can lead to miscarriage and foetal death. The National Sleep Foundation identified that sleep was crucial in the releasing of progesterone in the body, which brings forth the increasing need to sleep well during pregnancy.
Reduces the chances of low birth weight
A low birth-weight is one of the most feared outcomes of a pregnancy. And sleep researchers believe that the amount you nap is correlated with birth-weight. Low birth weight is associated with a host of illnesses in the long run with respiratory diseases, diabetes and even hypertension. Research has shown that women who took naps of at least an hour’s duration were by 29 percent less likely to have a baby with low birth weight, as compared to mothers who took little to no nap at all.
The world health organisation tags depression as the fourth most urgent disease in the world, that needs to be combatted. Depression is common during pregnancy, as 70 percent of women exhibit some symptoms. But what also struck researchers as odd was the linkage between developing depression and decreased duration of sleep and other disturbances. Depression could also lead to an excess production of cytokines in the body, and affect the health of the mother and baby. Sleeping for a healthier duration could reduce stress and enable the mother to relax, the lack of which is often attributed to depression.
The problem that most pregnant women face is the frequency of fragmented sleep, because of excess pressure on the bladder, heartburns and sleep apnea. It is suggested that in order to incorporate enough sleeping time, you should work on creating a schedule that ensures that you eat long before going to sleep to avoid frequent urination and heartburns. A large breakfast and lunch could be supplemented by a small dinner. If you still face problems in sleeping, it is best to visit your healthcare provider for advice.