Doctors at MayoClinic.com suggest adults get an average of seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Because pregnancy increases the demands on a woman’s body, especially during the first trimester, pregnant women may need more sleep. The number of hours you should be sleeping during the first trimester of your pregnancy varies from woman to woman, but you should listen to your body, rest when you feel tired and schedule and prioritize sleep because the changes that occur during pregnancy can cause sleep disturbances.
As soon as you become pregnant, your hormone levels change. Progesterone, a hormone produced by the ovaries and during pregnancy by the placenta, increases and plays a vital role in maintaining the pregnancy. High progesterone levels, although necessary, cause you to feel sleepy and fatigued. Progesterone also inhibits the normal function of smooth muscle tissue, which plays a role in increased urinary frequency. Although most women experience increased urination more in the third trimester, many feel the urge to get up at least once during the night during the first trimester, which interrupts sleep and reduces both the quantity and quality of sleep.
During the first trimester of pregnancy, your body also undergoes many physical changes. Your breasts become larger and may become uncomfortably tender. As your belly grows, you may find that you no longer can sleep in your favorite positions, such as on your stomach or back. These changes can make getting comfortable to fall asleep and stay asleep a challenge. Experts at the National Sleep Foundation suggest you begin training yourself to sleep on your left side during the first trimester. This is the best sleep position to improve the flow of blood and nutrients to the fetus, so getting used to it now can help you sleep better during the third trimester when your belly bulges even more.
The physical changes to the body that occur during pregnancy can induce medical conditions that also can interfere with sleep. Many women experience nausea during the first trimester of their pregnancy. Although it often is referred to as morning sickness, the nausea can occur at any time of day and even cause you to awaken during the night. The Restless Leg Syndrome Foundation reports that approximately 25 percent of pregnant women experience the symptoms of restless leg syndrome. These symptoms, which include the uncontrollable urge to move your legs and unpleasant sensations in the legs, increase at night and can cause sleep disturbances. The incidence of gastroesophageal reflux and heartburn also increases for pregnant women, which can disrupt your sleep.
Getting plenty of rest during your first trimester is important for the health of you and your growing baby. Sleep disturbances may cause a decline in the quality of your sleep. To combat that, go to bed earlier or take naps during the day to increase your quantity of sleep. Keep a nightlight in your bathroom to avoid turning on the bright lights during the night when you must get up due to nausea or the need to urinate. Most importantly, plan, schedule and prioritize your sleep to be sure that you get the amount of sleep your body needs during your first trimester of pregnancy.