Sleeping while pregnant can be one of the most difficult things of the entire journey. Women's bodies are changing, becoming larger and taking on a new shape, all of which can impact the mechanics and comfort of sleeping. This can lead to many women feeling sleep deprived and having trouble getting through a full night's sleep. However, it's very important that pregnant women get enough sleep throughout their pregnancy. Women who are habitually sleep deprived often have more complications than those who got their recommended number of hours. Here are some tips and more information on how to sleep while pregnant.
Sleep by trimester
Every trimester is not plagued with an inability to sleep. In fact, each stage brings on a unique sleeping pattern that varies from woman to woman. This is important to recognize as you may or may not fall into these patterns. However, if you're noticing severe sleep deprivation, then it may be time to speak with your doctor on what's the best way to overcome these challenges.
First trimester is characterized as increase desire to sleep. Women crave a significant amount while the placenta grows. You may feel sleepier overall and need to go to bed earlier and/or take naps. The best thing you can do during these three months is give the body the rest it's asking for. If you feel tired, then rest and go to sleep whenever it's safe and feasible.
The second trimester sleep normalizes to the hours you were at before your pregnancy. But, as the baby and abdomen grow, there may be some things that affect sleep like getting up and using the restroom in the middle of the night.
The final trimester sees the poorest quality of sleep due to a variety of factors. Back pain, kicks, leg cramps, frequent urination urges, and substantial weight gain, as well as congestion associated with late-term pregnancy can all be factors that negatively impact sleep.
In order to get better sleep throughout these sleep changes, there are some tips that you can try to get your sleep back on track:
Tips for better sleep while pregnant
Develop a bedtime routine
This is known as sleep hygiene, but it is the routine that you follow every night to help get better sleep. You can develop this before or after you get pregnant, but it is a series of activities you do every night before bed to help coach your brain and body to recognize when it's time to go to sleep. Doing this may help to increase your body's preparedness.
Keep a regular bed and wake time
This is also a component of your sleep routine. By waking up and going to sleep at the same time everyday, you can train your body on peak sleeping hours. It takes a lot of discipline to turn on your favorite show, or not sleep in on the weekends. However, by getting up or going to bed at regular intervals, you can create a habit that becomes easy to follow.
Avoid electronics before bed
Electronics like cell phones and TV have blue light that they emit from their screens. Blue light can inhibit melatonin secretion which is the hormone that regulates your sleep-wake cycle by preparing the body for sleep. Avoiding these light sources means that this hormone can be better regulated and release right before bed, optimizing your ability to get a good night's rest.
Limit caffeine in diet
Caffeine is problematic for sleep in two ways. First, it's a diuretic which means that it will tell your body to excrete water and cause you to have to go to the bathroom more often. Being pregnant already puts extra pressure on the bladder and can cause more bathroom trips, so it's best to avoid anything else that can exacerbate this.
Secondly, caffeine is a stimulant, and that can be antagonistic to sleep efforts. When it's time to go to sleep, you want supplements that calm the brain, not arouse it. So, it's best to avoid caffeine in any form including coffee, energy drinks and tea.
Before going to bed, try to reduce your stress which will relax your brain and body for a good night's sleep. There are various ways to relax including mindful meditation, yoga, and listening to calm music. Reducing your stress is a great way to maintain overall health, reduce blood pressure and help get a good night's sleep.
Sleep on your side
Sleeping on your side may give you more comfort and help to reduce the amount of congestion and snoring that may keep you and your partner up at night. You may need a pillow to support your back and knees, but this sleeping position may enable you to get more sleep.
Elevate your head
Elevating your head at night can help you limit breathing problems including sleep apnea. This is because elevating your heads helps increase the work of gravity by keeping your airways open and creating efficient pressure differences for optimal breathing.
Sleep problems associated with pregnancy
Some sleep disorders worsen or start during the course of pregnancy. Most of them resolve or return to their normal severity upon delivery.
Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a sleeping disorder that can develop or worsen during pregnancy. It involves tingling or prickling sensations throughout the legs that cause restlessness throughout to resolve the feelings.
Sleep apnea is particularly dangerous for mother as it shows negative effects for both mother and baby. Sleep apnea is obstruction of the airway which causes short pauses in breathing. Your body then wakes you up to begin breathing again, but you may not remember this episode. This can lead to increased health problems, excessive daytime sleepiness, and severe sleep deprivation. Preeclampsia and gestational diabetes are two other health concerns associated with this sleeping disorder. If your partner notices something strange about your breathing at night, it's best to go in for a sleep study or talking with a professional.
You can take a free online sleep test by clicking the orange button below to speak with a sleep professional.