Pregnancy and Sleep

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Pregnant women are also at risk for developing sleep apnea, a disorder in which breathing is repeatedly interrupted during sleep. This is particularly true of women who are overweight when they become pregnant. Sleep apnea may also be associated with complications during pregnancy such as gestational hypertension, preeclampsia, or low birth weight. It is also associated with more daytime sleepiness compared to women who do not have sleep apnea during pregnancy. If you are pregnant and feel you may suffer from sleep apnea, it is very important that you talk to your doctor.

Poor sleep can also have an effect on labor and delivery. Researchers from the University of California at San Francisco recently found that women who slept fewer than 6 hours per night had longer labors and were 4.5 times more likely to have cesarean deliveries. Based on these findings, the researchers recommend that doctors discuss both sleep quantity and sleep quality with their pregnant patients as part of basic prenatal care and stress the importance of "sleeping for 2".


Here are the common sleep problems and their symptoms that may occur during pregnancy:

  • Insomnia – symptoms of insomnia include difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up too early or feeling unrefreshed. Insomnia related to stress or anxiety about labor, delivery and/or balancing work and motherhood may result in significant sleep loss. The discomforts of pregnancy such as nausea, back pain and fetal movements may also disturb sleep.
  • Restless legs syndrome (RLS) - symptoms of RLS include unpleasant feelings in the legs, sometimes described as creepy, tingly or achy. These feelings are worse at night or in the hours before bed and they are temporarily relieved by movement or stretching.
  • Sleep apnea – sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which breathing is repeatedly interrupted during sleep. A noticeable feature of sleep apnea is heavy snoring accompanied by long pauses, and then gasping or choking during sleep.
  • Nocturnal gastroesophageal reflux (nighttime GERD) – GERD, also known as heartburn, is considered a normal part of pregnancy. However, nighttime symptoms of GERD can damage the esophagus and disrupt
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