Pregnancy sleep :
Achieving good sleep when you are pregnant can really be a challenge. It is usual in the first trimester to experience extreme tiredness but then you do have the promise of the second trimester when you may hopefully feel energetic and mostly well. However this isn’t always the case and as your pregnancy progresses and your body increases in size, sleep can be elusive.
Unfortunately lack of sleep can prevent mums- to-be from operating at their optimum levels (or even close to this) and also leave you more susceptible to colds, illnesses and depressive symptoms.
This can be even more challenging, if you already have children, as then you really may be worn out from the daily grind.
Whilst achieving a good night’s sleep when you are pregnant can be a difficult task it is not impossible. I have put together some helpful tips that may help you get comfortable and feel better rested during your pregnancy.
1. Get comfortable: Investing is a suitable mattress every 7-10 years is strongly encouraged. It can be overlooked and although you will have heard this before you spend 1/3 of your life in bed and as a result you will need a good, comfortable-suited to your own preferences- mattress.
2. Be cool: The bedroom itself should be uncluttered, cool and dark. The idea room temperature between 15-20 degrees Celsius. Consider your bedroom a sanctuary and create this environment accordingly.
3. Feel good: Wear and sleep under and over textiles that you like to feel on your skin. Avoid tight fitting nightwear as your size increases and seek out fabrics that that can also help to keep you cool-your body temperature is higher whilst pregnant and we achieve sleep easier when cool
4. Switch off: Avoid bring electronics into the bedroom create a boundary where this is concerned. Invest in an analogue clock to help stop you “needing” your phone to tell the time
5. Side sleep: Find a comfortable sleeping position early on. As you get larger, it can become more difficult to get into a comfortable position. It is a good idea to try to get into the habit of sleeping on your side early on in your pregnancy. Lying on your side with your knees slightly bent will be the most comfortable position you will be able to get into as you head into your third trimester. If you become used to sleeping that way before you get big that can help. Sleeping on your side has positive implications for your body: it makes your heart’s job easier to circulate blood. Some experts specifically recommend lying on your left side as this prevents your uterus putting pressure on your liver and allows for the best blood flow to the baby, uterus and kidneys. However lying on either side is useful.
It may be worth experimenting with some pillows to aid comfort. You can use one to support your belly, or put one between your legs and also use one at your back to help prop you up. Some full length body pillows can really assist with improving the quality of your sleep.
6. Have consistency: Keep a regular wake up and bedtime. This will help to regulate your body clock and help your body to sleep and wake at certain times. Make sure that you are getting enough sleep. Most adults need 7-9 hours and during pregnancy mums-to-be sometimes need a little more. Even if you feel that you will never get that much sleep at least commit to 7 hours, which means aiming for a bedtime that allows for at least that much sleep based on the time you wake at or need to be up. Avoid sleeping in too late on weekends if you find that it affects your ability to go to sleep at bedtime the next night.
7. Caffeine ban: Try to cut down on caffeinated drinks like tea and coffee if haven’t already. You will know that cutting back/eliminating is recommended anyway, bear in mind too much caffeine affects sleep so if sleep is an issue it may be worth removing or at least restricting your intake to the morning or at least stopping by about 2 pm.
8. Eat smart: Avoid eating large meals or drinking fluids close to bedtime. Ensure that you are eating a balanced diet throughout the day but avoid eating a large meal within a few hours of bedtime. Some expectant woman may find that having their dinner as the smallest meal of the day greatly avoids discomfort during sleep-time. Furthermore, ensure that you intake recommended fluid amounts during the day but try to cut down as bedtime approaches so that you cut down on the toilet runs required overnight. If you do need the bathroom overnight try to avoid bright lights and return to bed as quickly as possible.
9. Relax: Try not to do any strenuous exercise too close to bedtime. Regular exercise during the day will improve your circulation and reduce leg cramps, but doing this too close to bedtime will make it hard for you to go to sleep. Indulge in something relaxing like a warm bath or hot drink.
10. Pre sleep ritual: Learn some relaxation and breathing techniques that you can use at bedtime. Use my 100% natural Sleep Through product range. Take a pregnancy yoga class-be sure to consult your GP before undertaking a new activity.
11. Nap: Take a day time nap-if you feel like you need to sleep do. Pretty soon you will be having frequent night waking with your baby and it won’t be about you anymore! So grab some rest whenever your body indicates that it needs it. Short 30-60 minutes sleeps during the day can help make up for lost sleep. You may need to review this practise if having a nap seems to affect you going to sleep easily at bedtime. Avoid naps after 230pm either way.
12. Breathe: If you find that you are having difficulty either going asleep or returning to sleep using some mindfulness and breathing techniques can really help. Although in times past we were encouraged to get up and doing something else however, a resting body may be just as beneficial as a sleeping one and decreases the risk of training your body to wake at night and want to do something else.
All too soon, your baby will be here and you will likely have disturbed sleep for a whole new reason, but that is normal and to be expected and some say that struggling to sleep whilst pregnant is natures of preparing you!
Lucy Wolfe, CGSC, MAPSC, H.Dip RM is a paediatric sleep consultant, Author of the bestselling book The Baby Sleep Solution, creator of “Sleep Through”, a natural bed and body sleep spray and relaxing rub, and mum of four. She runs a private sleep consulting practice where she provides knowledge, expertise and valuable support to families across the country. See www.sleepmatters.ie |087 2683584 or |firstname.lastname@example.org