Nightmares During Pregnancy Second Trimester

Nightmares During Pregnancy Second Trimester
photo credit: baby centre

Nightmares During Pregnancy Second Trimester

Nightmares During Pregnancy Second Trimester.

The fractured logic and mystifying images that appear in dreams can be downright bizarre for anyone. But studies have found that pregnant women reported more nightmares and more intense dreams than nonpregnant women, and that women in the last trimester of their pregnancies described more frequent nightmares during that stage than during the earlier trimesters. If that has been your experience, you’re not alone. Many women say they dream of sex, talking animals or huge, towering buildings during pregnancy.

According to a study published in November 2016 in the journal BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth. Researchers surveyed 406 pregnant women, ages 17 to 44, and found that they reported nightmares more than twice as often as women who were not pregnant, and that those nightmares were often baby-related. Another study, published in June 2014 in the journal Sleep Medicine, surveyed 57 pregnant women who were in the last trimester of their pregnancies; 32 percent described having weekly nightmares, and 21 percent reported more than one nightmare per week.

What’s causing weird dreams?

We all usually cycle through different levels of sleep during the night. Most nights, you’ll go from drowsiness to light sleep, then on to rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, and finally into deep sleep. Dreams usually happen during REM sleep, but we usually cycle back through light sleep and drowsiness before waking up, which means we don’t always remember our dreams.

During pregnancy there’s more likely to be something that brings you to the surface and wakes you up, disturbing your sleep cycle. Whether it’s leg cramps, needing the loo or just trying to get comfortable, something’s likely to keep you from your deepest slumber.

Having your sleep interrupted makes it more likely you’ll remember your dreams. That’s why it seems as if you’re having more dreams, and because you’re remembering them so clearly, they seem particularly vivid.

Back in May, pop singer Cardi B, who welcomed her first baby last Tuesday (July 10) — tweeted about experiencing “weird, crazy, spooky dreams,” writing in a second tweet that all of her dreams were “too vivid.”

What is it about pregnancy that causes troubled dreaming?

It’s often said that dreams express your subconscious worries, so your night-time adventures may represent your deepest concerns about having a baby.

You may have a panicky dream in which you leave your newborn baby unsupervised, lose her altogether, or fumble a simple task such as changing a nappy. Dreaming that you’re running away, falling from a great height, or trapped in a room may express your concern about losing your freedom. Other common dreams reflect concerns over changes in your looks or in your relationship, what your baby will look like, or whether you’re prepared enough to be a mum.

The human sleep cycle has five stages, one of which — rapid eye movement, or REM — makes up about 25 percent of sleeping and is the stage when most dreaming occurs, according to the National Institutes of Health. When you fall asleep, you enter the first REM stage after about 70 to 90 minutes, and REM sleep occurs several times during the night as your sleep cycle repeats.

As you dream, your brain is actively sorting through recent experiences and emotions, and dreaming is thought to play a role in memory consolidation and processing new information, Dr. Ryan Donald, a physician and assistant professor of sleep medicine at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, said.

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But if a person’s sleep cycle is broken and they wake up during a REM stage, they would be more likely to vividly recall what they’re dreaming — and pregnant women often experience disturbed sleep at different pregnancy stages, according to Dr. Julie Levitt, an OB-GYN and clinical instructor at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago.

“Rising progesterone levels in the first trimester can trigger insomnia — that’s fairly common,” Levitt said. That usually abates at 12 to 16 weeks into the pregnancy, but the onset of the third trimester, about 28 weeks and beyond, brings increasing physical discomfort that can disrupt nighttime rest, she explained.

“Quality of sleep is the poorest right before you’re about to deliver the baby,” Levitt said. “You have to get up to pee at night, or you might snore, or have sleep apnea.” (People with sleep apnea experience very shallow breathing or pauses in breathing while they’re asleep.)

Restless legs syndrome, a disorder that causes an intense urge to move the legs, can also manifest during pregnancy and interrupt much-needed sleep, Donald added. Frequent sleep disruption increases the likelihood of waking up during the REM stage of the sleep cycle, which makes dreams seem more immediate, intense and memorable, Donald said. “Lower sleep quality, shorter sleep duration, more interruptions during sleep: These all can increase the likelihood of remembering dreams,” he said.

Pregnancy, particularly the third trimester, is a period of heightened stress; perhaps increased daytime stress for pregnant women could explain why nightmares are more frequent during pregnancy, the scientists wrote.

This article on "Hkitnob: Health Columns" is for informational purposes only, and is not meant to offer medical advice.