Here at Adoption Choices of Colorado, we love being conversation starters. We’re advocates who answer any and all questions, even the silly and obscure ones. In large, we aim to provide meaningful resources and means of support during your unplanned pregnancy. This way, you’re able to conduct a positive and healthy pregnancy experience.
Recently, we’ve been discussing important and beneficial ways to go about achieving healthy practices of self-care, nutrition and exercising. This week, we are discussing the benefits of sleep during your unplanned pregnancy.
Sleep and its Benefits
Your need for sleep is driven by the amount of time you spend awake. The longer you are awake, the greater your need for sleep. Your internal clock helps you regulate sleep patterns. These cycles are called circadian rhythms, which repeat every 24 hours. Your circadian clock is controlled by our hypothalamus and greatly influenced by light. Your hypothalamus receives signals, which then communicate to other parts of your brain, including your pineal gland. In response to light, the pineal gland turns off the production of melatonin, a hormone that causes drowsiness. Your levels of melatonin normally increase after darkness, making you feel drowsy. The change in melatonin during the sleep/wake cycle reflects your circadian rhythms.
In short, this is why we rise and shine during daylight hours and sleep during dark hours; although, this can vary depending on where you live in the world or if you work nights. These factors can cause your circadian rhythms to fluctuate, and you may have a harder time sleeping. Lack of sleep can deeply deprive you of the overall benefits you should be receiving, especially during pregnancy.
10 Benefits of Sleep:
- Better productivity and concentration
- Depression prevention
- Better social and emotional interactions – being able to recognize important social cues and process emotional information.
- Lower risk of weight gain
- Lower risk of diabetes
- Better calorie regulation – reduced levels of Ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates appetite, and higher levels of leptin, the hormone that suppresses appetite
- Higher exercise performance – performance intensity, energy and mental functioning
- Lower risk of heart disease
- Lower inflammation
- Stronger immune system
In order to harness these benefits, be on the lookout for our up and coming blog that discusses tips for better sleep.
Sleeping for Two
As the saying goes, “You are eating for two,” this same logic applies to sleep. Your body is constantly changing and growing throughout pregnancy, which is the main reason that it affects your quantity and quality of sleep. Sleep during your unplanned pregnancy should be the least of your worries. So, be sure to talk to your doctor about any issues you may be having, and practice consistency regarding routines and habits.
The National Institute of Health says most adults, on average, need eight or more hours of sleep. Sleep is especially important during pregnancy because it regulates growth hormone levels, which dictates your shape, size and baby’s development. So, sleep should be a high priority during your pregnancy. Poor quality of sleep during gestation tends to result in a longer labor and is also correlated with a higher rate of cesarean deliveries.
During your first trimester, your body’s main issue is constant tiredness as it begins to change and your levels of progesterone begin to rise. You might even find a more frequent urge to use the bathroom, disrupting your quiet hours. Going to the bathroom more often is normal. However, if at any point it hurts to pass urine, talk to your doctor. Make sure you are sticking to a daily routine that offers consistent ways to provide self-care, but also limits stress or triggers that can cause lack of sleep. For instance, going to bed early, implementing naps, eating well, drinking lots of fluids and surrounding yourself with people and/or an environment that is positive and healthy are all good ways to enact self-care.
Your body is constantly growing and changing during this trimester and will face new challenges. You may notice feelings of stuffiness, leg cramps and unusual dreams or odd habits such as snoring. To alleviate these symptoms, listen to your body. Maintain a healthy diet and drink plenty of fluids. You can use saline spray for a stuffy nose and stretch or be active to help with leg cramps. You can also implement a regular routine to reduce stress. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns, and, as always, your partner or spouse, friends, family members, and/or counselor are always there to lend an ear.
It is important during this time that you take the necessary precautions and sleep properly – especially from 28 weeks until the birth of your child. Lying on your back can reduce blood flow to your baby and restrict his or her oxygen supply. Sleeping on your side is best. The easiest ways to implement sleeping on your side is by investing in pillows. Place them behind your knees, under your belly and behind your back for added support. Pillow usage can also reduce heartburn and snoring. During this time, your back may begin to ache. So, avoid heavy lifting and long periods of housework or standing. Make sure to rest your legs any chance you get in order to avoid other such pain and swelling. Also, your frequency of needing to pee will likely increase even further due to your baby’s positioning on your bladder and an increase in hormones that cause your pelvic floor to relax. Pelvic floor exercises can aid you in avoiding ‘leakage’.
Sleeping during Your Unplanned Pregnancy
Remember, sleep is just one of the essential aspects to a positive and healthy pregnancy. Overall, make sure you’re ingesting the proper amounts of calories and liquids, staying active and, of course, sleeping well.
Be sure to stay tuned for our next blog – the second part of our sleep series – where we talk about sleeping positions to avoid, habits and health issues that cause sleep deprivation and tips for an optimal night’s rest.
Adoption Choices of Colorado
Adoption Choices, Inc. is a private, non-profit adoption agency licensed by the state and leader in the adoption community. We have been assisting birth parents, children, and adoptive parents in Colorado since 2002. Our staff has a genuine commitment to providing an empathetic, empowering, and progressive experience to all involved in the adoption process. For more information on adoption please contact Adoption Choices of Colorado. We can be reached via our website or phone 303-670-4401.
Support Adoption Choices
Adoption Choices, Inc. is partnering with Crowdrise, a fundraising website for nonprofits, to help our adoptive parents and birth parents with much needed financial assistance. We understand that expenses keep clients from fulfilling their dreams. Both with birth parents making a plan for adoption, and with adoptive parents growing their family. It is our mission to provide financial assistance through grants and scholarships, awarded annually in November, in honor of National Adoption Month. Funds assist adoptive parents with matching and placements, adoption finalization and helping birth mothers improve their lives through higher education — and much more.
However, we can’t do it alone. Please read up on our programs and donate money where you are able. Your donation will make a huge impact.
About the Author
Taylor Tsakopulos, the bestselling student. She has interned locally in Denver and internationally in Dublin, Ireland, taken classes/workshops and worked odd jobs and yet always comes back to being a student and the desire to learn or create.
When she isn’t creating content she’s off dancing and hiking. Always chasing after new things and experiences. After living and working in Europe, she is hungry for more.
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Sleep during pregnancy: the science behind those ZZZs. (n.d.). Retrieved March 17, 2020, from https://www.oviahealth.com/guide/10189/science-behind-sleep-during-pregnancy
Sleeping for Two: Sleep Changes During Pregnancy. (n.d.). Retrieved March 17, 2020, from https://www.livescience.com/50713-pregnancy-sleep.html
Retrieved March 17, 2020, from https://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/sleep-during-pregnancy