Insomnia in Pregnancy, Babies and Teenagers - When Will the Kids Leave Home So I Can Get Some Sleep?

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Insomnia in pregnancy is quite common and as a mum to be it's probably on the top ten list of things to be worried about when becoming pregnant.
The certainty is that there will be hormonal changes going on and the major players are oestrogen and progesterone.
In the first trimester there is a rush of progesterone coursing through the body, which has a sedative effect.
That's the good news.
The bad news is that it relaxes the muscles in the wall of the bladder, leading to many more trips to the bathroom, interrupting the much-needed sleep.
A lot of women suffer from excessive fatigue during the day and have a tendency to sleep more, although this sleep is not as beneficial as slow wave or deep sleep.
In the second trimester there is still an increase of progesterone, but it's rate of increase has decreased and mothers to be, generally report better night-time sleeping, having more energy during the waking hours and visit the bathroom less often.
That's the good news.
The bad news is that many women start snoring and during this period are more likely to develop sleep apnea as well as high blood pressure.
This is due to the increased presence of oestrogen affecting the blood vessels causing air passages to get blocked.
In the third trimester we'll cut straight to the chase because there isn't really any good news - not when it comes to sleeping anyway.
Progesterone levels are at their peak and sleep disturbances during the night come in all sorts of guises.
Leg cramps, congestion, heartburn, many bathroom trips, breast tenderness, shortness of breath, uterine contractions and that's apart from the baby trying to batter his way out.
So overall, in the last few weeks of the pregnancy it will, no doubt, be very difficult for the mother to be, to find a consistently, comfortable sleeping position and more time than not will be spent awake with the sleep achieved of a low quality type.
Tips to help insomnia in pregnancy
  1. Exercise regularly and keep weight in check
  2. Eat small days during the day avoiding spicy and fatty foods
  3. If you suffer from heart burn try sleeping with the bed head elevated
  4. Nap during the day to relieve daytime fatigue
  5. Increase your intake of folate, iron and vitamin B12
  6. Hydrate during the day at regular intervals easing off at night
  7. Adjust your bed position according to your stage of pregnancy
  8. In the third trimester try to sleep on your left side allowing improved blood flow to the foetus, uterus and kidneys
Babies They sleep an awful lot and it's a very active sleep made up of around 50 percent rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.
Sleep is absolutely essential for the mental and physical development of babies and although it's unusual, sleep disorders in babies and children can exist, so if there are any concerns, a visit to the doctor would be advisable.
For the first couple of months babies have an irregular sleep-wake pattern.
They can sleep from between 10 and 18 hours a day with waking periods of 1 to 3 hours.
Babies should preferably be put to bed when they are sleepy after plenty of light and play during the day, rather than when they are asleep.
Generally speaking, separating the baby from the parents during sleep is thought to be the best option.
There is some evidence to show that children, who have developed sleep disorders, were more likely to have shared the sleeping space with one or both parents.
Besides benefiting the baby, sleeping apart means the parents get better quality sleep as well.
Infancy to teenagers Between years 5 to 12 it is still important for children to get good quality sleep as mentally and physically they are still in an important development phase.
It's important to be wary of stimulants that might interrupt their sleep patterns.
These include digital stimulants, television, computer games, as well as food and drink containing a lot of sugar and caffeine.
Continued sleep disturbances can lead to poor learning, mood disorders and hyperactivity.
Children may also be more likely to start showing signs of sleep apnea, narcolepsy and sleep walking.
A consistent bedtime routine is the order of the day.
This means morning waking-times and bed times, being consistent.
Bedroom temperature should be comfortable, around 75f (24c) and quiet and dark.
Stop excessive activity one or two hours before bedtime.
The child should be left to go to sleep whilst still awake and drowsy so that he/she learns to get to sleep by himself/herself.
Teenagers need less sleep but quite often develop a phase shift in their sleeping habits or the first signs of delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS).
It's more likely the apparent shift in phase, is to do with behavior changes at school or socially.
It may be harder for parents to implement, but again a consistent bedtime routine is important.
DSPS is a circadian rhythm disorder and the likely sleeping pattern would be getting to bed at between 2am and 6am and rising between 10am and 1pm.
The tendency would be to eat in the evening and not being hungry in the morning.
Apart from common sense measures in getting your child back into a more normal pattern of sleep, "light" therapy can be tried.
This is where bright light is scheduled for the early morning and strong light is avoided after sunset.
Light exposure is more effective when combined with exercise.
Switching the computer off in the evening or at least moving it out of the teenager's bedroom might be helpful for sleep, but being without social networking for so long, might be too big a wrench.
These are some reasons why insomnia is a major problem and some suggested ways, out of the many, that can help banish sleepless nights.
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