Pregnancy, Postpartum, Menopause and Sleep

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Pregnancy, Postpartum, Menopause and Sleep

Pregnancy brings fluctuating hormones with body temperature changes, nausea, the increased urgency to urinate, and trouble getting comfortable at night.

If you find yourself overheating or sweating while you sleep, wear light cotton pajamas and keep a spare set next to you at night, along with a glass of ice water. A good set of pillows will be your friend during pregnancy, especially as your belly grows. Lie on your left side if you can (best for your circulation), and experiment with putting a pillow or two between your legs, behind your back, or even a thin one under your abdomen. You can find long body pillows that also support your upper body while you sleep. Remember that light can send alerting signals to your brain, so leave a nightlight in the bathroom or hallway for nighttime trips instead of turning on overhead lights.

Hot flashes are very common for women in menopause and can make sleep difficult as well. Many scientists believe that dropping estrogen levels and other altered hormones trick the hypothalamus (the brain's temperature regulating region) into thinking the body is overheating. To get rid of excess heat, blood vessels dilate and blood flow increases to the skin, causing a flushed and sweaty feeling. Wear light cotton pajamas or those designed to wick away moisture, and consider keeping an extra set near your bed. If you sweat a lot at night, keep an extra pillowcase, a towel, or even a spare set of sheets near the bed as well. Have a cold facecloth and a glass of ice water on hand and follow tips for keeping your room cool. If symptoms persist, consider consulting with your gynecologist.

Supporting Research

Circadian rhythms, sleep, and the menstrual cycle

Sleep in women across the life cycle

Predictors of sleep quality