Not getting enough shut-eye? Lack of sleep during pregnancy may put you at a higher risk for preterm birth.
Getting a good night's sleep can give you an energy boost to get through your day. But research also shows how sleep during pregnancy—or lack of it—affects prenatal health. The latest eye-opening study? Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine now believe that poor sleep habits may put some moms-to-be at higher risk for premature birth.
It's already known that a number of factors contribute to preterm birth, including illness during pregnancy, smoking, obesity, and stress. So what's the deal with sleep? Researchers believe that lack of sleep triggers inflammation, which in turn can activate processes and hormonal changes in the body that may lead to early childbirth.
In the study, researchers looked at sleep and birth outcomes in 166 moms. They found that women who reported poor sleep quality in the first trimester or third trimester were most likely to be at increased risk for preterm birth. Women who only experienced sleep issues in the second trimester did not seem to be at increased risk, though researchers are still not able to explain why.
Preterm birth is a scary topic. But the good news here? Sleep quality tends to be something that women can address and improve, researchers note.
If you are suffering from a lack of sleep or disrupted sleep, sleep experts say to first take stock of what is getting in the way of you getting enough shut eye. Is your pregnant body just not comfortable in bed? Try experimenting with pillows to get the support you need. Indigestion or extra trips to bathroom have you up all night? Avoid spicy foods before bedtime and try to work in that glass of milk earlier in the day, not right before you turn in. A soothing bath might help, reading and having "wind down" time, and keeping the room dark—no falling asleep to the late shows! Watching TV right before bed often backfires and ends up keeping us up hours longer.
If catching enough zzzs continues to elude you, have a chat with your doctor about possible causes and solutions. And then, sleep tight, Mama!