Why it is so Difficult to Get Good Sleep While Pregnant?

In healthcare, it is usually “art” and “science” that come together to provide a solution that helps you obtain optimal health. Fortunately (but unfortunately) we don’t put pregnant women through extensive experimental testing (science). We need to explore ideas that are common sense (art) when science isn’t working or can’t work. Let’s start by embracing concepts that make sense and can bring you optimal health.

Before we go on, we have to set the stage and agree on a few things. First, it is well-known that we should create the best environment possible for a fetus and the person carrying the fetus. Second, it is a fact that every cell in the human body uses oxygen. Finally, the brain needs time during sleep to process and control what happens in the body. Agreed? Ok, we’re on the same page.

We must prioritize diagnosing and supporting the airway during pregnancy due to the physiologic changes that take place. Edema in the upper airway from elevated estrogen and progesterone during pregnancy causes an increase in negative pressure. This increases the likelihood of the upper airway collapsing. ¹This airflow disruption will either cause snoring, Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS), or even worse, Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). All of these lead to sleep disruption, which can manifest in multiple symptoms such as anxiety, depression, sleepiness, fatigue, headaches, head and neck pain, etc².  These happen because the brain responds to the disruption in airflow and sends signals to improve the airflow, which means your brain brings you out of deeper sleep. When we are awake, we do not snore or have OSA. So, naturally, your brain wants you in a state that is closer to awake for improved breathing. However, when you are awake, your heart rate is faster, your blood pressure is higher, and your oxygen saturation is higher compared to deep sleep. This is great when you want to be awake during the day, but not when you are sleeping.

It is not ideal to have these symptoms or prevalent conditions like gestational OSA and gestational high blood pressure. Yet, the only treatment so far is positive airway pressure therapy (commonly known as CPAP therapy). This simply isn’t acceptable as it is already hard enough to sleep when pregnant! Ripple Oral Appliances and nasal dilators like the Ripple Airstrip are a conservative, comfortable, and effective solution and a great place to start to breathe better, sleep better, and combat snoring, UARS, and OSA during pregnancy. Your baby deserves the best chance to be healthy.

We are calling on all OB/GYNs, primary care doctors, and any other providers of care to screen every pregnant patient for airway and sleep disorders and inform them of all their options to get help. These women don’t have to accept that status quo and deal with these symptoms. They can treat the cause and have a happier, healthier pregnancy.