• Dr Peter Chew

Sleep problems in pregnancy

She had to pee a few times every night. “Doc,” she said” I have difficulty going back to sleep again. I feel very sleepy at work the next day. My appetite is affected and I become very anxious. Will the insomnia affect the health of my baby?”


Felicia, 29, a first-time mum is at 11 weeks of her pregnancy. She is not alone with problems in sleeping. Four out of five women have inadequate, disturbed or poor-quality sleep during pregnancy. There are many reasons, the most common being the discomfort, abdominal pain and back aches as the womb expands with the growing foetus. Frequent urination at night, hormonal changes and anxiety about the arrival of the baby are other reasons.


Whatever the reason, studies have shown that insomnia will not have any negative impact on foetal health.



To cope with the sleep problems during pregnancy, the following measures may help.


1. Create an environment conducive for sleeping:


· Keep the room comfortably cool, quiet and dark.

· Aromatherapy may help

· Firm mattress to support the spine so as to reduce the backache

· Soft pillows to support the abdomen.

· Have soft and soothing music in the background


2. Self-discipline;


· Have a fix sleep schedule and adhere to it

· Afternoon naps should not be too long. Otherwise, insomnia may occur.

· Exercise regularly, but only until the early evening as exercising too near your bedtime may result in difficulty sleeping.


3. Reduce discomfort


· Have a light snack before sleep to avoid hunger pangs and to reduce heart burn

· Massage and relaxation techniques: Yoga, Pilates, meditation

· Have a warm bath before sleeping

· Wear loose clothing


4. Cut off stimulant


· Avoid Coffee and chocolate at bedtime. Have a cup of chamomile tea instead.

· Stay away from sugar at night

· Switch off hand phone, laptop or other electronic device early. The blue light emitted from the screen can suppress levels of melatonin, the hormone that regulates the sleep cycle


5. Anxiety management:


· Don’t look at the clock: getting too anxious as the minutes creep by can only make sleeping problems worse

· Reduce stress


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