The third trimester is the most sleep challenged stage of pregnancy. With the frequency of urination, inability to get comfortable and exhaustion from trying to keep up with the demands of their normal schedules, some women find themselves struggling to stay awake. Hayley complained, "The third trimester was tough. I felt huge and could not get comfortable. I could hardly breathe because I started becoming asthmatic. Plus, the baby would kick at night causing me to wake up many times."
Back Pain, Muscle Aches and General Discomfort
In a study by the Department of Anesthesiology, Yale University School of Medicine, 950 pregnant women were surveyed about lower back pain during pregnancy, how it impacts day-to-day life and how their healthcare provider managed the pain. The study showed that 645 respondents reported back pain during their pregnancy and a majority claimed that it caused sleep disturbances.
These aches and pains can be associated with the ligaments between the pelvic bones softening and the joints loosening in preparation for the birth. Carrying the weight of the baby also affects posture, leaving many women uncomfortable walking, sitting, and sleeping.
Although studies show that women start waking up during the night at the onset of pregnancy, Dr. Mindell and Dr. Barry J. Jacobson's study "Sleep Disturbances During Pregnancy" show that by the end of pregnancy 97.3% of the women were waking at night - an average of 3.11 times each night. Two thirds of the women who woke up at night awakened five or more nights per week. Waking up multiple times may interrupt the necessary sleep cycles.
Many pregnant women start snoring because of nasal congestion, and the increase in abdominal girth and the uterus pressing on the diaphragm. About 30% of pregnant women snore because of increased swelling in their nasal passages, which can block airways. Snoring can also lead to high blood pressure, which can put both the mother and fetus at risk. If the blockage is severe, sleep apnea may result, characterized by loud snoring and periods of stopped breathing during sleep.
Women should consider snoring