This lack of hours of sleep and a restful rest can entail a series of health risks. “In the general population, insomnia is associated with substantial deficiencies in the quality of life, with respiratory, digestive, metabolic, neurodegenerative and psychiatric pathologies, and even with an increase in mortality,” recalls Román Gálvez.
Insomnia can cause hypertension or risk of premature birth
And he explains that, in pregnant women, the sleep deficit is also linked to an increased risk of suffering these other health problems:
- Increase in the frequency of gestational diabetes.
- Depression, including postpartum depression.
- High blood pressure and preeclampsia, a complication of pregnancy associated with an increase in blood pressure and high levels of protein in the urine (proteinuria).
- Systemic inflammation caused by an increase in the levels of cytokines and C-reactive protein.
- Cesarean sections not planned.
- Prolonged labor
- Detached placenta.
- Delayed intrauterine growth.
- Premature delivery.
THE FACTORS THAT AFFECT SLEEP
Although the work, the result of a doctoral thesis directed by the professors of the University of Granada Carmen Amezcua and Aurora Bueno, has not focused on studying the causes of insomnia during pregnancy, the researchers point out some factors.
“We have seen that there is a greater risk of suffering insomnia at each time of pregnancy those women who already had it before, which seems obvious but it is very necessary to take into account to prevent it,” says Roman Gálvez.
Physical and hormonal changes favor gestational insomnia
But there are other factors. “In the third trimester, obesity and the fact of having other children increase the risk of insomnia. We also know from other studies that anatomical and hormonal changes influence gestational insomnia,” he adds.
The researchers warn that, although it is known that during pregnancy the previous sleep problems are aggravated and very often new ones arise, in the health system they are not given the attention that should be given during the pregnancy follow-up.
The authors of the study warn that it is not given the importance that it should be
Moreover, not even the World Health Organization (WHO) deals with sleep in its guidance for pregnant women.
“There is a tendency to assume the difficulty to reconcile and maintain a restful sleep as a phenomenon of pregnancy that you have to suffer with it,” says Carmen Amezcua.
Exercising helps prevent insomnia
For this reason, the authors of the study consider it very important that the health system addresses insomnia during pregnancy in a systemic manner and that early detection is carried out. “When it is done, it is not only determined whether or not there is insomnia, but also the intensity of it, or even the proximity to the existence of insomnia when it does not yet exist,” says María Rosario Román Gálvez.
Given that obesity is one of the risk factors, “preventing it in pregnancy or fighting it is also a way to prevent insomnia,” the researcher adds.
They recommend at least 30 minutes a day of physical activity and therapies such as relaxation and yoga
Recommending the practice of exercise among pregnant women could help reduce both obesity and sleep deficit. ”Pregnant women who engage in physical activity have a lower risk of insomnia, provided that for health reasons, including the risk of pregnancy, it is not contraindicated, a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate physical activity for 5 days a week is recommended,” advises Román Gálvez.
Performing basic behavioral therapy and other alternative techniques, such as relaxation or perinatal yoga, are some of the activities that can help prevent and combat insomnia during pregnancy according to the researcher.