For expecting mothers, a full and undisrupted night of sleep isn’t always a sure thing. More than three out of every four expectant women say they experience more disturbances while sleeping during pregnancy than they usually do. For the most part, trouble sleeping is a normal and harmless part of pregnancy. Unfortunately, sleep apnea—which affects many pregnant women—doesn’t fall under this category.
Sleep apnea causes breathing to start and stop multiple times during the night. Because sleep apnea deprives the woman’s body of essential oxygen, it can be dangerous for both the expectant mother and baby. A recent study suggests that women who experience sleep apnea while pregnancy has an increased risk of future health problems for both themselves and newborns including an increased risk of the baby requiring neonatal intensive care and the mother suffering from preeclampsia, or high blood pressure. Fortunately, future mothers suspected of suffering from sleep apnea may require treatment.
Understanding the Dangers of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea occurs when the airway collapses during sleep, thereby blocking airflow and causing involuntary movements of shallow or no breathing that can last for a few seconds to a minute or more. Apnea often occurs after a pattern of heavy snoring and can happen between four and 15 times an hour for those with mild sleep apnea to over 30 times an hour for those suffering from severe sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is more prevalent in people who are overweight or obese due to the extra weight in the neck area, putting pressure on your windpipe or trachea. For expectant mothers that experience excessive weight gain during pregnancy, this risk can be more severe. A 2017 study found that over eight percent of pregnant women develop some level of sleep apnea midway through pregnancy.
Risks of Sleep Apnea and How to Treat It
Because sleep apnea causes you to stop breathing multiple times during the night, it lowers a person’s blood-oxygen levels putting them at risk of high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attack. Additionally, pregnant women may be at an increased risk of developing preeclampsia and gestational diabetes, both of which could be dangerous for the unborn child.
Most victims of sleep apnea are unaware they even have it because it occurs while sleeping, but over time, it will significantly impact your daily life. If you find yourself tired throughout the day, fall asleep while reading, watching television, or sitting in traffic, or notice changes in your mood, you should talk with your doctor about sleep apnea.
Treating sleep apnea usually involves changes to your lifestyle, including finding a healthy weight management plan, changing sleeping positions, and consulting with the experienced oral sleep appliance team at Silent Night Therapy.
Dr. Brown and the OSA team will help diagnose and treat sleep apnea during pregnancy and will work with you to find an oral appliance that will help you get quality sleep. Call us at (631) 983-2463 to schedule a consultation with our knowledgeable and compassionate team today.