Friday, 22 February 2008

Now I’m pregnant why am I sleeping so badly?

One of the reasons for fatigue and sleep problems during pregnancy are changing hormone levels, says UrBod Nutritionist Melody Mackeown, who specialises in pre-conceptual care, fertility and pregnancy. For example, rising progesterone levels may partly explain excessive daytime sleepiness, especially in the first trimester.

However, according to the National Sleep Foundation, several sleep disorders can be caused or made worse by pregnancy. In a study of over 600 pregnant women, 26% reported symptoms of restless legs syndrome (RLS), a condition characterized by unpleasant feelings in the legs that worsen at night and that are relieved by movement.

The exact cause of RLS is unknown. However, evidence suggests that it is related to an imbalance of a brain chemical called dopamine. Dopamine is a naturally occurring substance which affects movement. In the evening, dopamine levels fall, and this may explain why the symptoms of RLS are often worse in the evening and at night.

Another cause of RLS is a lack of iron which is essential for the production of dopamine. Other nutrients are also involved in neurotransmitter regulation such as B6, B12 and folic acid.

Pregnant women are also at risk for developing sleep apnea, a disorder in which breathing is repeatedly interrupted during sleep. This is particularly true of women who are overweight when they become pregnant. Sleep apnea may also be associated with complications during pregnancy such as gestational hypertension, preeclampsia, or low birth weight.

Consequently, it is important to ensure that you are eating well in order to ensure you are consuming enough nutrients to sleep well, says UrBod Nutritionist Melody Mackeown.

To find out more about Nutritional support during or before your pregnancy, contact UrBod Nutritionist Melody Mackeown Dip.ION (mBANT), specialist in pre-conceptual care, fertility and pregnancy care in the city of London, EC2. I have also written a free e-book on how you can improve your diet during your pregnancy, which can be obtained by clicking on my link.