Insomnia might be widespread and generally accepted as something that’s bound to happen to everyone once in a while. However, insomnia can have more adverse effects on the body than you might imagine. I have suffered with insomnia most of my life, but I can’t imagine being that tired and pregnant. For pregnant women, insomnia can have even more worrying effects, such as damage to the immune system and infants with low birth weights. A study done by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine found women with insomnia caused by depression have an even higher chance of experiencing adverse birth effects.

Dr. Michele Okun, assistant professor of psychiatry at Pitt's School of Medicine and lead author of the report, says that "Our results highlight the importance of identifying sleep problems in early pregnancy, especially in women experiencing depression, since sleep is a modifiable behavior. The earlier that sleep problems are identified, the sooner physicians can work with pregnant women to implement solutions."

Getting enough high-quality sleep is just good for women who are pregnant, it’s also good for anyone interested in keeping their immune system healthy. Disturbances in your sleep pattern can agitate your bodies inflammatory responses, which can cause an overproduction of cytokines. Cytokines are signal molecules that communicate among immune cells.

When you have an excess of these cytokines, they can end up attacking healthy cells. In pregnant women, this can destroy tissue and inhibit your ability to fend off disease. While irregular and bad sleep isn’t a death sentence, it can definitely affect your chances of having a healthy birth.

During pregnancy, it can be difficult to solve sleep issues. There aren’t many medications you can take, and unfortunately, sleep will become harder as you progress through your pregnancy. A little trouble sleeping is perfectly normal. You’re not always going to be comfortable and other factors like morning sickness and food sensitivity will probably keep you awake at some point. However, there are some options for women who are depressed during pregnancy and experiencing insomnia.

Gentle aromatherapy has been used successfully and so has meditation and physical therapy like massages and light stretching. Certain foods can also help induce sleep as well as certain teas and herbal formulas. If you’re experiencing insomnia during your pregnancy, talk with your doctor today to discuss further options that might be available to you.

Source: University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences (2013, July 17). Poor sleep in pregnancy can disrupt the immune system and cause birth-related complications. ScienceDaily.