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Poor Sleep in Pregnancy Linked to High Blood Pressure

Too Much, Too Little Sleep in Early Pregnancy May Raise Preeclampsia Risk

Good Sleep Hygiene in Pregnancy a Must

"This was a rather groundbreaking study," says Michael Breus, PhD, author of Beauty Sleep and the clinical director of the sleep division for Arrowhead Health in Glendale, Ariz.

"It is a great start and one of the first, if not the first, study to look at how sleep can have an effect on blood pressure during pregnancy -- specifically first-trimester sleep," he says.

The study points to the importance of good sleep hygiene in pregnancy, he says.

For starters, "you need to be careful about how much weight you are gaining," he says. Some pregnant women may develop sleep apnea, a sleep disorder marked by pauses in breathing while asleep. "If your bed partner notices that you have started snoring or light breathing, call your doctor for evaluation," he says.

Exercise is known to improve sleep quality. "If you are comfortable and your doctor has said it is OK to exercise during pregnancy, moderate exercise will help with overall sleep," he says. Cutting back on caffeine is also important during pregnancy, and as a means of improving sleep.

"Aim for a reduction if not elimination of caffeine during pregnancy," he says. Also, make sure your mattress is supportive during pregnancy.
"If it is too firm, consider a mattress topper to make it softer," he says.

Avoid reading any scary pregnancy or childbirth stories right before bed, Breus says.

"Read these articles in the morning, not in the evening, because all that will do is prevent you from sleeping," he says.

Manju Monga MD, the Berel Held Professor and the division director of maternal-fetal medicine at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in Houston, says that pregnancy and sleep issues often travel together. "Some women get up and use the restroom all night long, or find it hard to get in a comfortable position when sleeping," she says.

"Taking naps during the day can also make it harder to get a good night's sleep," she says.

Her advice? "Do something relaxing and not stressful relaxing before bed," she says. And "tell your obstetrician if you are having problems with sleep."

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