Dreaming of Sleep

Getting the sleep you need when you're pregnant comes with its own set of challenges.


At eight weeks pregnant, Amy Aulson couldn't get enough sleep. The 35-year-old financial services director often slept a solid 12 hours each night, yet still struggled to stay awake at work. "I felt like I could fall asleep right at my desk," says Aulson. But nearing her ninth month of pregnancy, she was lucky to sleep three hours at a time—in between frequent bathroom visits, pillow repositioning and bouts of heartburn.

According to a National Sleep Foundation (NSF) survey, by the end of their pregnancies, 97 percent of women say they wake up during the night. And that's a problem. "During sleep, your body rebuilds its immunities, which is especially important for pregnant women," says neurologist Frisca Yan-Go, M.D., director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center in California. Plus, a pregnant woman's super-charged metabolism means she needs rest even more.

Lack of sleep also may impact labor and delivery, research suggests. First-time mothers who slept six hours or less in their ninth month of preg-nancy were more likely to experience prolonged labor than women who slept seven hours or more, and they were five times more likely to have a Cesarean section, according to research from the University of California, San Francisco.

Here are the causes and solutions for pregnancy-related sleep woes, as well as what you need to know about your baby's sleep later—because if he sleeps well, so will you.

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