There’s a lot that goes on in your body when you become pregnant. That miracle of life can also come with its fair share of less-than-ideal side effects like nausea, hormonal changes, and mood swings. It can also lead to restless nights or even insomnia, which can be frustrating at best but dangerous at worst. It’s also highly inconvenient: you need sleep now more than ever to prepare for the long first few months of your baby’s life!
Luckily, you don’t have to accept poor sleep as a given during your pregnancy. Here’s how you can sleep like a baby even while you’re growing one inside of you.
A bad night’s sleep is a pretty common complaint among pregnant women. And like many things during pregnancy, a big part of the reason that you could be having a hard time getting a good night’s sleep during pregnancy could be due to your hormones.
Many pregnant women experience insomniabecause of those hormonal symptoms and side effects that make it hard to get comfortable and relaxed, including:
In addition, pregnancy also comes with its fair share of physical discomfort that can make it even harder to fall asleep. (Source) You might be dealing with back pain, sore breasts, or a baby kicking you from the inside out. Leg cramps are common as your baby puts pressure on your nerves, and you may even develop restless leg syndrome or have it worsen throughout your pregnancy.
Sleep apnea, a condition in which you experience disrupted breathing from an obstruction of your airways, may also develop or worsen while you’re pregnant. This condition could impact your sleep quality and leave you feeling tired and fatigued no matter how many hours you’ve slept.
And that’s not to mention the stress of bringing a new life into the world that could keep you tossing and turning for hours!
So it sometimes feels like the odds are stacked against you when you’re trying to get a better night’s sleep while growing a baby! But sleep is critical for expectant mothers and their newborns. Besides feeling extra-tired during the daytime, sleep deprivation could affect your weight, mental health, and blood pressure. Some studieshave even found a correlation between sleep deprivation and adverse pregnancy outcomes like longer labor times, increased pain during childbirth, and even higher rates of preterm births and C-sections.
Finding a way to get a good night’s sleep is important, even though it might seem elusive during your pregnancy. By getting into better sleeping habits, adjusting your bedroom comfort levels, and changing up your routine a bit, you may find that sleeping comes a little more naturally.
Here are some tips for sleeping soundly through the night during your pregnancy:
You may need to experiment with different sleeping positions in order to really snuggle down and get comfy at night.
Gather a bunch of your most supportive pillows and utilize them to relieve pressure points. You might also benefit from sleeping on your side rather than your back to relieve some of the pressure your baby is putting on your spine.
One of the key practices for having a better night’s sleep throughout your entire pregnancy is to follow a regular, structured sleep routine. Pick a good bedtime every night and stick to it by making sure that you’re in bed, lights off and distractions set aside, by that time every night. The more regularly you practice this good habit, the more your body will become accustomed to sleeping when it’s supposed to!
While it might be tempting to whip out your phone every time another random baby question pops up in your mind or to binge documentaries on pregnancy and childbirth, you should resist the temptation the closer it gets to your bedtime. The blue light from digital screens can interfere with the amount of the hormone melatonin that your body produces which can, unfortunately, disrupt your regular sleep cycles. Make it a point to turn your screens off and put them aside about an hour or so prior to bedtime so that your brain can switch to “sleep” mode.
If your restless nights are stemming from anxiety over your soon-to-be new arrival, you may need to address the stress head-on in order to get through it. Talk it out with your friends, family, or partner, or find more productive outlets for stress like exercise or new hobbies to get some of that nervous energy out. You might also try some relaxation techniques before going to bed like taking a warm bath, drinking a calming cup of tea, or even practicing some meditation to get your body and mind in the right space for a good night’s sleep.
Comfort is key when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep, so changing up your bedroom itself might be the first step to take to sleep better during pregnancy. Keep your room cool, clean, and comfortable. If you find that you’re running too hot at night for comfortable sleep, consider changing up your sheetsand duvetto more breathable cotton fabrics like percale or sateen. You want your bed to be inviting and comfy, not stifling!
Regular exercise is a great sleep aid, plus it’s just good in general to keep up with a regular physical activity routine throughout your pregnancy for the health of both yourself and your baby. Just make sure you’re giving yourself at least a couple of hours between exercise and bedtime to allow yourself time to cool down and relax.
Certain foods and eating habits can also keep you up later at night than you would like, so you might need to make some changes to your diet if you suspect that it’s contributing to sleepless nights. For example, women who suffer from heartburn should avoid eating a large meal right before bedtime. Caffeine, chocolate, and spicy foods should also be avoided at night so that they don’t prevent you from falling or staying asleep.
If you blame your interrupted sleep on frequent bathroom trips, get plenty of liquids earlier on in the day so that you don’t have to drink as much water late at night.
If all else fails and you’re still having trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, it’s worth reaching out to your health professional. They may be able to prescribe sleep aids that are safe for you to use during your pregnancy.
Banking those precious sleep hours is crucial when you’re expecting a new bundle of joy, so fighting insomnia during your pregnancy can feel like a cruel joke from the universe. Changing up your bedroom and nighttime habits can go a long way in helping you sleep more soundly no matter what’s going on with your body and your hormones.