Why Pregnant Women Are Prone to Insomnia


The many stages of pregnancy are often coupled with difficulty sleeping. Insomnia is not uncommon in pregnant women, but it’s important to understand its potential effects that are, more often than not, completely harmless.

Roughly 8 out of 10 women whom are with child suffer from insomnia and other sleep disorders throughout their pregnancies. These can range from difficulty falling asleep, to waking up frequently throughout the night, and everything in between. The symptoms don’t have to manifest themselves as serious, but a significant lack of sleep in any form can be considered insomnia.

There are a variety of reasons why pregnant women are more susceptible to insomnia in sleep disorders, the most common being hormonal changes and discomfort due to the size and weight of the abdomen. Standard pregnancy pains can also contribute greatly to a lack of sleep, like back pain, heartburn, persistent urination, and general anxiety.

Remedying this lack of sleep can be difficult, and results can vary from person to person. Many medical professional often recommend changing up your sleeping positions, and changing your sleeping environment for optimal comfort. This can be done by adjusting your thermostat to a relaxing temperature, and utilizing sound soothers to create an ambience throughout the room. Before bed, taking a warm bath or practicing yoga techniques you may have learned in a maternity class can help greatly as well.

If you are continuously having trouble staying asleep throughout the night, rather than fighting it, some may suggest getting out of bed and grabbing a small snack or drink, or reading a book. Taking part in a relaxing activity when you are struggling to stay asleep can promote drowsiness. Similarly, taking naps throughout the day is crucial for pregnant women, though the shorter the better in order to best avoid affecting your normal sleep schedule.

It is important to note that sleeping pills and over-the-counter sleep medication can be potentially dangerous to your unborn child, though some are safer than others. These are typically the safest during the early stages of your pregnancy, and doses no higher than the recommended amount are best. Taking too many sleeping pills of any kind can be very dangerous for your health, and your baby’s health.

Insomnia is most common in pregnant women during their first trimester. Often times, it will pass after a few weeks. If you have been struggling with insomnia or other sleep disorders throughout your pregnancy, talk to your doctor about possible solutions, and try any of the strategies mentioned above.

How to Stop Grinding Your Teeth in Your Sleep

Monitoring your physical movements while you sleep is obviously not something that can be done easily without the help of a sleep specialist. Whether you talk in your sleep, sleep walk, or move spastically throughout the night, your overnight activity can potentially lead to further health problems.

One of the most detrimental subconscious sleeping habits is bruxism, otherwise known as teeth grinding. Most individuals experiencing bruxism are unaware that they are even doing it. Whether the teeth are being grinded, clenched, or gnashed, it’s vital to understand the serious side effects that come with this bad habit.

Bruxism is typically caused by stress, anxiety, and other emotional complications, and can occur more or less frequently depending on age. It has been reported more in children, though adults can develop this over time as well. While this habit can be done while the individual is awake, it most often occurs during sleep.

Grinding your teeth throughout the night can lead to sleep disorders like snoring and sleep apnea, and the pain can persist for the duration of the entire day following. Many sufferers have reported having jaw pain, headaches, and, unsurprisingly, damaged teeth after days of experiencing bruxism. It can also increase the sensitivity of one’s teeth, and even loosen them from the gums.

Work closely with your dentist to discuss your sleeping habits, daily routine, and any medication you may be taking to best diagnose if you are suffering from bruxism. Though children experiencing this complication commonly outgrow it, adults who grind their teeth in their sleep must undergo treatment to improve their dental health, and prevent them from continuing this habit in the future.

One form of treatment involves dental appliances like splints or mouth guards. These are to be worn while the individual is sleeping, which keeps their teeth separated so they are unable to grind or clench them. Should there be severe damage already done to the teeth, a dentist will almost always suggest repair through crowns or reshaping.

If a dental approach doesn’t seem to be alleviating the problem, other forms of treatment involve therapy and medications. Seeing as stress and anxiety is a common cause of bruxism, behavioral management classes can do wonders for those who can’t seem to stop grinding their teeth. Medications such as antidepressants and anti-anxiety pills may help as well. In some cases, dentists may suggest muscle relaxers before going to sleep to allow the cheek and jaw muscles to loosen, which can lessen the chances of teeth grinding throughout the night.

Bruxism can be extremely detrimental to your dental health, as well as your sleeping habits, so it is best to address this issue as early on as possible. Be sure to properly manage any stress you may be experiencing in your life, develop healthy sleeping habits, and visit your dentist regularly to stay up to date with your oral health, and aware of your overnight activity.

The Best Medication for Sleep Disorders

R. Kirk Huntsman

Individuals suffering from sleep disorders are all too familiar with the countless forms of treatment available. Certain treatment may work for some and fail for others, including specific devices, apps, alternative treatment, and, of course, medication. There are many medications available, so it can be difficult to determine which work best for you. Sleeping pills in general often have varying side effects, risks, and benefits, so speak with your doctor beforehand to choose the sleeping pill best suited for your health and lifestyle.

Products like Valium and Xanax are two of the most well known sleeping pills on the market. These are both benzodiazepines which directly affect the chemicals within your brain that could possibly be unbalanced, leading to anxiety. Both of these medications are commonly prescribed to ease anxiety and panic disorders, but can be beneficial for those with sleep disorders as well. However, because of their molecular components, they have a variety of side effects. These include decreased time spent in certain stages of sleep throughout the night (i.e. less time spent in REM, and the deepest stages of sleep), and even mild hangovers because of how long these medications stay in your body.

Ambien and Lunesta are both sedatives specifically engineered to help those with insomnia and general sleep disorders. The advantages these medications have over Valium and Xanax include no grogginess or hangovers felt the next morning, and a much lower chance of developing an addiction to these pills. These are both newer products compared to the aforementioned benzodiazepines, and are therefore more in tune with the brain’s chemical makeup. Rather than taking a pill that has a general effect on multiple brain receptors, both Ambien and Lunesta affect specific parts of the brain that involve sleep.

Rozerem is another sedative that acts specifically on the body’s melatonin production within the area of the brain focused on sleep. This directly affects the circadian rhythm of your body, providing users with a much more natural sleep aid. An added bonus is that very few side effects have been found when taking Rozerem, the only ones being drowsiness, nausea, and unusual thoughts.

While medication has its benefits, it’s important to note that not everyone will react the same way to certain types. As mentioned, talk to your doctor if you are suffering from sleep disorders, and discuss what medications could help you the most depending on your lifestyle and medical history.

Alternative Forms of Treatment for Sleep Disorders

Treating sleep disorders is a serious matter that is usually best handled by sleep specialists or medical professionals skilled in this area, but depending on the severity of one’s complications, at-home remedies may suffice.

Alternative medicine is somewhat of a controversial topic, with some individuals within the medical field questioning their actual abilities, and others swearing by them. When treating sleep disorders however, many different forms of secondary treatment have been found to be effective, though it is recommended that these strategies be paired alongside traditional methods. When CPAP masks for sleep apnea or ambien for insomnia fail to do their jobs effectively, “complementary therapy” could help.

Essential Oils

There are countless oils on in stores today that market themselves as sleep remedies or aids in relaxation, and surprisingly, most can actually back up these claims. Moderate sleep disorders can be eased to an extent with certain oils. Marjoram essential oil for example, can help relax one’s muscles, relieving tension throughout the body. Lavender is another popular oil that has a scent capable of inducing calmness, and reducing insomnia and sleep apnea. Plant-based oils like thyme and peppermint are great for clearing airways, and helping those with respiratory issues.

Herbal Remedies

One of the most “natural” forms of sleep remedies is the use of herbal supplements. Valerian is a root that has a great amount of sedative ingredients which can create a calming effect in patients suffering from sleep disorders. Chamomile is another herb that was originally used to reduce swelling and treat stomach cramps, but has been found to effectively treat insomnia. Surprisingly, not to go against the numerous studies conducted stating that alcohol can worsen sleeping patterns, a moderate amount of hops have been found to have sedative effects, helping individuals fall asleep faster. Aside from beer, making a tea out of these supplements is highly suggested for those interested.


Some people may be hesitant to the idea of having fine needles inserted in various parts of their bodies, but the practice of acupuncture can actually help treat insomnia and other sleep disorders that involve muscular tension. The practice has been linked to increased levels of melatonin being released, allowing patients to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Some acupuncturists combine the powers of herbal remedies, burning these supplements on the ends of the needles for added effect. The goal is to promote the function of whatever part of the body the needles are in, like the back, neck, knees, and feet. Though it has not been absolutely proven to be a sound treatment for sleep disorders, acupuncture can, and has shown signs of improving sleeping patterns in patients.

How to Manage Sleep When Working the Night Shift


Working 9 hours a day, regardless of the time of day, can make getting a sufficient amount of rest difficult. Shift work sleep disorders are a real and pervasive issue among those who work night shifts or during obscure hours of the day, and regulating this complication can be extremely burdensome.

These types of sleeping disorders can cause all the health complications that come with the others, those being sleep apnea, insomnia, and more. However, this lack of sleep before going to work can lead to much more danger, as fatigue is likely to cause an increase in human error.

There may be an increased number of work-related accidents, and a general decrease in overall performance. Should you be in a career field that requires these difficult hours, there are a number of steps you can take in order to receive a sufficient amount of sleep, and maintain the safety of yourself and those around you while at work.

If possible, avoid working several night shifts in a row. Take time off if you have to, but 3 or 4 shifts at work during nighttime hours can lead to increased sleep deprivation. During daytime hours in which you are not working, be sure to maintain a regular sleep schedule, and avoid as much light as you can. You’ll want to replicate the night in order to essentially trick your body into thinking it is time to go to bed. When leaving work, be sure to avoid bright lighting as much as you can. Dark sunglasses are great for people who may have longer commutes the following morning.

Upon waking up, expose yourself to as much light as possible for a similar effect to avoiding light when leaving. If your day begins between the hours of 12:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m., you may want to consider investing in a device designed to aid your wake-up routine. These can be anything from light therapy boxes, to scheduled coffee makers. The trick is to replicate your typical morning in order to energize your body and mind.

Though it may seem counterintuitive, limit your caffeine intake when working a night shift. While it is encouraged to have a cup of coffee or two upon waking up, consuming caffeine throughout your workday can negatively affect your sleeping patterns later. The effects of caffeine usually last anywhere from 4 to 6 hours, so plan accordingly.

Shift work sleep disorders are difficult complications, but are common. The more you age, the more difficulty you may have with managing these sleeping issues, but the strategies mentioned above are just a few that could potentially make a great impact in improving your nightly (or daytime) rituals.

Sleeping Positions for All Kinds of Conditions

There’s nothing that ruins your whole day quite like getting a poor night’s sleep. The time we spend asleep each night is the time that our body uses to restore its energy and rejuvenate itself so that we’re ready to begin the next day. In fact, sleeping is so important for your overall health that chronic lack of sleep has been linked to an increase in an individual’s risk for heart diseases, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, and kidney diseases.

Under ideal conditions, it shouldn’t be difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep on any given night. Unfortunately, whether it’s due to illness, pain, or the stress of everyday life, most nights we aren’t faced with ideal conditions, so we have to improvise in order to get the rest we need. Get a good night’s rest despite whatever’s ailing you with these sleeping positions to help you sleep easily no matter what you’re dealing with.

  • Sinus Pressure/Problems
    • If you’re experiencing problems with your sinuses, especially congestion due to a cold or illness, you know how difficult it can be to breathe let alone sleep well while you’re suffering. To combat the pressure and help relieve some of the pain in the morning, sleep at night on your back with your head elevated. This will allow your sinuses to drain and eliminate some of the pressure.
  • Indigestion/GI Problems
    • If you’re suffering from indigestion, you could end up tossing and turning all night trying to find some relief. Believe it or not, the side of your body that you sleep on can actually impact the discomfort you’re experiencing. Studies have shown that sleeping on your right side can actually exacerbate problems like heartburn while sleeping on your left side will help to soothe them.
  • High Blood Pressure
    • If you’re in the 29% of the population that experiences high blood pressure, then you’re one of the 75 million Americans who likely has problems sleeping when your blood pressure gets too high. If it’s difficult to catch some shuteye when your blood pressure is too high, try sleeping on your stomach. Studies have shown a consistent decrease in blood pressure when participants sleep on their stomachs versus sleeping on their sides or backs.
  • Headaches
    • Headaches can range in severity from mildly irritating to downright debilitating depending on the person and on the day. If you find that you can’t get to sleep at night because you have a headache, or you’re waking up each morning with one, adjusting the way you sleep can help reduce the number and intensity of the headaches you experience. Since they can be caused by tension in your neck, find a pillow that will give your head and neck support. You can also consider supporting your head on all sides with pillows to keep your head from moving too much.

3 Ways You Can Prevent Jet Lag


What may be surprising to some is that jet lag is typically considered a temporary sleep disorder, which occurs when traveling from one time zone to another in quick succession. Because of the human body’s internal clock that tells you when to go to sleep and when to wake up, also known as the circadian rhythm, traveling to a different time zone can be disorienting due to your body still being synced to the original time zone that you had just left. The symptoms can worsen the farther you go as well.

These symptoms can range from daytime fatigue to gastrointestinal problems, and every general symptom of sleep deprivation in between. Fortunately, jet lag is a temporary disorder, and there are several ways in which you can prevent falling victim to it.

  1. Plan Ahead

Though planning ahead is an obvious must when traveling anywhere in the world, for those visiting destinations that are in drastically different time zones, you’ll want to plan ahead in a different sense. Gradually adjust your sleeping patterns in preparation for the new times you’ll need to go to sleep and wake up. For example, if you are traveling east, go to sleep an hour earlier than you normally would for a few days, eventually upping that to two hours earlier. The opposite goes for those heading west.

  1. Maintain Your Health

Everyone understands the benefits that come with a proper diet, exercise, and good night’s sleep. The trick is actually implementing those habits within your daily routine. In terms of jet lag prevention, they can be even more beneficial. Some studies have shown that a better overall sense of wellness can increase your body’s adjustment to the new time zone. When on the plane or upon arrival, try to avoid developing the “vacation diet,” in which you have very little limitations with what you eat and drink. Overeating, alcohol, and caffeine all directly affect your sleeping patterns, and can worsen the symptoms of jet lag.

  1. Don’t Force Sleep

A common mistake many travelers make when entering a new time zone is giving in to their bodies’ circadian rhythm, and going to sleep regardless of the local time. If you arrive at your destination at 10:00 a.m., no matter what time your body thinks it is, go about your day accordingly. Don’t force yourself to sleep during earlier times. Set an itinerary beforehand, and set out to accomplish all that you can in that first day. If napping is a necessity, try not to go over 20 or 30 minutes.

Less Common Sleep Disorders and How to Treat Them


Most people are well aware of more common sleep disorders like insomnia, narcolepsy, and sleep apnea and their effects on our health. However, what many may not know is the health hazards that come with some lesser known sleep disorders. All of these conditions do share one thing though, and that is preventing an individual from getting a good night’s sleep. Below are some less common sleep disorders that deserve the attention of medical professionals, and those suffering from them.

Sleep Paralysis

Many people have experienced this terrifying phenomenon that often comes with vivid hallucinations, typically of frightening images or sensations. During REM sleep, the brain essentially “turns off” the muscles so that the individual does not physically act out any dreams he or she may be having. Sleep paralysis occurs when you have awoken from REM sleep before that stage is finished, leaving your muscles paralyzed while your eyes are open, leaving you in a transient conscious state. During this state, many patients have experienced hallucinations of someone or something in the room with them, or feeling pressure on one’s chest. This sense of panic can directly affect your ability to fall back asleep.

Treating this condition depends on the causes. More often than not, sleep paralysis is a hereditary complication, making it all the more difficult to treat. However, it is mostly caused by sleep deprivation and narcolepsy, in which case getting a full night’s sleep on a consistent basis can help lessen or cure sleep paralysis altogether. Work closely with a sleep specialist if you feel that sleep paralysis frequently occurs in your life. Different forms of medication, such as antidepressants, may help.

Night Terrors

Somewhat similar to sleep paralysis in that the individual experiences vivid nightmares, night terrors can lead to a person thinking they are awake, when they are actually asleep. In this state, you may scream and yell in your sleep, violently toss and turn, and sometimes sweat profusely. Though this typically occurs toddlers and young children, adults can experience night terrors as well.

Treatment for night terrors is fairly simple when a child is involved. While it may appear that they are in great distress, allowing children to go through the night terror without interfering is your best option. No physical harm is being done, but waking them suddenly can enhance their fear and potentially affect their sleeping patterns in the future. In adults, night terrors are most often caused by stress and anxiety, which can be treated with behavioral or relaxation therapy. Should an underlying condition be the cause, such as sleep apnea, treating that condition first should aid in curing the respective night terrors.

Exploding Head Syndrome

The name of this condition alone may startle a few people, but there is no pain associated with exploding head syndrome. This sleep disorder involves hearing a loud sound comparable to an explosion or gunshot right before the individual is about to fall asleep. As jarring as it may be, there is no physical harm done. However, exploding head syndrome can lead to a development of fear in patients, forcing them to stay awake for longer in an attempt to avoid experiencing it.

Seeing as this is another condition often caused by stress or depression, certain forms of medication may help, such as antidepressants or calcium channel blockers. More natural remedies include improving sleeping habits and meditation. Sleeping 7-8 hours a night consistently with little disturbance can prevent experiencing this phenomenon, much like the aforementioned conditions.

Sleep Disorders in the Military

Those fighting for our country battle not only enemies, but countless amounts of medical and mental issues. In the military, sleep is not as great a luxury as it is for those not serving due to certain missions spanning for days at a time. A lack of sleep in soldiers has taken interest in experts interested in sleep disorders, and the results speak for themselves.

Getting a proper night’s sleep seems to be the cure to many life dilemmas, however those serving most likely do not have control over their sleep schedule. Army Col. Dr. Vincent Mysliwiec conducted a study which concluded a great deal of sleep disorders among active military. As obvious as it may seem, the lack of a complete sleep cycle highly increases the probability of injuries, errors, and accidents. David Vergun blogged on Real Clear Defence about Dr. Mysliwiec’s findings and how he discovered most soldiers sleep less than 6 hours, when the average adult should at least be getting 7-8 hours. This unstable sleep cycle can inevitably ruin a person’s biological clock, likely leading to a sleep disorder.

The same study found that 85% of test subjects had a “clinically relevant sleep disorder.” The American Academy of Sleep Medicine also took a look into Mysliwiec’s study and elaborated that due to the conclusion of the study, a change in military culture regarding sleep should be considered. Often times, soldiers engage in one-hour rotations when they are on a “watch” duty type mission. This pattern is often more damaging to a sleep cycle than staying up for a full day. Interrupted sleep has a greater impact on a foundation for developing a sleep disorder than long periods without sleep cause. Allowing significant time to catch up on sleep following a lengthy mission is highly encouraged by doctors, as a rested mind is less likely to create harmful scenarios for the military personnel.

An even more appealing case advocating for those serving and needing more sleep is the repercussions of having a sleep disorder. Those with insomnia during their time serving are more likely to suffer from PTSD than those not incurring a sleep disorder. After returning home from a tour, many claim that the inability to sleep is due to constantly being on high alert during their deployment. The ability to break the habit of constantly being vigilant is the most difficult part of returning home, according to an article on Task & Purpose. A huge concern is the lack of resources that exist to help those suffering. Medication is always available, but unless veteran status is achieved, those returning to combat are not likely to take up a medicinal solution.

Being a part of the military presents scenarios and challenges that everyday citizens will likely never face. Many times, sleep is low on a list of priorities during an intense mission or task, however the recovery afterwards is vital in order for soldiers to regiment a healthy sleep cycle.

A Dentist’s Role in Improving Sleep

R. Kirk Huntsman

A surprising outlet one who is experiencing difficulty sleeping may have is his or her dentist. While it may seem like a waste of time bringing up sleep issues with a medical professional primarily focused on oral health, dentists have an impressive amount of insight on the connection between your teeth and how well you may be sleeping at night.

Like all medical professionals, a patient’s overall health is the main concern for dentists. With the many connections between oral health and how it affects all areas of the body, those in the dental industry have been trained to identify telltale signs of sleeping issues. For example, the alignment of one’s jaw and decaying enamel may display the habit of grinding teeth while sleeping, or having obstructive sleep apnea altogether.

If your dentist were to suspect that you suffer from a sleep disorder of any kind, you will typically receive a brief interview as they attempt to assess your personal situation, asking about your daily habits, if you happen to feel drowsy during any of those, or if you generally have trouble sleeping at night.

A large number of dentists have been trained to properly treat sleep apnea, and typically offer mandibular advancement devices depending on the nature of one’s case. Tongue retaining devices work best for those who experience excessive snoring, as the tongue is held in a forward position, preventing any blocking of the airway. Continuous positive airway pressure therapy, or CPAP, helps provide airflow throughout the night for anyone struggling with sleep apnea, and frequent stoppages in breathing.

If your dentist suspects that you may be experiencing a sleep disorder that may have gone unnoticed, they may be able to provide alternative methods of treatment, or general tips to help you treat the condition yourself. This is not to say that if you are experiencing difficulty sleeping, you should consult your dentist first. Though they may be knowledgeable on the subject, it is not their primary area of focus. You will be (and should be) referred to a sleep physician to properly treat these sleeping complications.

However, they can help. If your case is not an emergency, bring the subject up during your next dentist appointment, and he or she may be able to share their knowledge, and help you better control your sleeping patterns.