Sleep and Pre-Eclampsia: 5 Tips Mamas on Bedrest can use to improve their sleep and avoid pre-eclampsia.

October 13th, 2010

Getting less than 5 hours of sleep per night early in pregnancy increases the odds of a pregnant woman developing pre-eclampsia 9.5 times in the third trimester.  Women who get more than 10 hours of sleep per night early in their pregnancies increase their odds of developing pre-eclampsia by more than 2 times in the third trimester.

These are the results of a study carried out by Michelle Williams, a professor of epidemiology and global health at the University of Washington, and co-director of the Center for Perinatal Studies at the Swedish Medical Center in Seattle. The results are presented in the October issue of Sleep, the official journal of Associated Professional Sleep Societies, LLC (APSS), a joint venture of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society.

The study was not intended to identify the causes of the blood pressure changes, so Williams and her colleagues are not able to say why the changes occurred. Williams theorizes that changes in the body’s circadian rhythm may occur when sleep habits change during pregnancy, and that these changes may cause hormonal changes that affect blood pressure levels. While these are very important and interesting findings, everyone agrees that this is just the beginning and much more data is needed to understand why these changes occur.

Now if you are a mama on bed rest reading this information, you may think, “Well I’m safe on that front. I’m in bed all day!” But one of the major complaints that I encounter in women on bed rest is that they can’t get comfortable, are often achy and that they don’t sleep well. Their sleep is fragmented and they seldom get restful, restorative sleep while on bed rest. This lack of restorative sleep is the major problem for pregnant women and what can lead to pre-eclampsia, elevated blood pressure, protein in the urine, extremity and facial swelling. Untreated pre-eclampsia can be fatal for women and their babies whether a woman is on bed rest or not.

So what can a mama on bed rest do to improve her sleep quality? Here are 5 suggestions to improve sleep while on bed rest.

  1. Establish a routine. Got to sleep and get up at the same time every day. Having a routine can help a mama on bed rest to remain organized and to spend her time well.
  2. Avoid naps if you are having trouble sleeping. Now this can be tricky. Because you are in bed, it is very easy to doze off during the day-especially if you aren’t sleeping well at night. But these “cat naps” will only make things worse. If you are having trouble sleeping it is even more essential that you establish a routine of going to bed and awakening and avoiding daytime napping.
  3. Massage. One reason that so many women are unable to sleep is that their muscles and limbs ache from being in bed. Some women are required to spend most of their bed rest time on their left sides, so as one can imagine, fatigue and body aches can set in. It at all possible and if qualified professionals are available regular massages are a great way for mamas on bed rest to relax as well as for those aches and pains to be soothed. Massage also improves circulation and lymphatic drainage relieving extremity swelling and the risk of blood clot formation.
  4. Exercise. I know, you’re on bed rest. That is why we developed Bedrest Fitness. Along with massage, moving your body is a sure fire way to improve sleep as well as to improve circulation and reduce some of the common aches associated with pregnancy. Bedrest Fitness is a set of modified prenatal exercises a woman can do while in bed on bed rest. For a limited time, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of Bedrest Fitness will be donated to Better Bedrest, a non-profit organization that provides micro grants to women on bed rest in financial need. Bedrest Fitness DVD’s are available here.
  5. Avoid caffeine, foods high in sugar and heavy foods late at night. How often have you eaten a heavy meal or a sweet dessert before going to bed only to be awakened in the middle of the night? This is due to the drop in your blood sugar that results from eating a meal or snack high in sugar. If you need a snack before bed, opt for something that has a low glycemic index, i.e. something that will fill you up, won’t weigh you down, and will require time for your body to break down keeping your blood sugar levels relatively constant. Low glycemic fruits and plain yogurt, celery and peanut butter, low fat chocolate milk are all examples of low glycemic snacks that will fill you up but not cause the dramatic drop in blood sugar during the night that can disrupt sleep.

One response to “Sleep and Pre-Eclampsia: 5 Tips Mamas on Bedrest can use to improve their sleep and avoid pre-eclampsia.”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by KeepEmCookin, Helen Lowell. Helen Lowell said: Sleep and Pre-Eclampsia: 5 Tips Mamas on Bedrest can use to …: If you need a snack before bed, opt for something… […]

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