Tips for Better Sleep While Pregnant
Whether you’re pregnant or not, sleep is incredibly important to your health.
A good night’s sleep doesn’t just mean feeling more awake the next day — though it often does mean that, too. According to the US Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, getting enough sleep leads to fewer illnesses, lower stress levels and makes it easier to maintain a consistent, healthy weight. Sleep can even help you get along better with other people, a skill we’ve all tried to master at one time or another. Sleep expert and News in Health neurologist Dr. Merrill Mitler explains,
Sleep services all aspects of our body in one way or another: molecular, energy balance, as well as intellectual function, alertness and mood.
You’ve probably heard that, in order to reap the benefits of a good night’s sleep, most adults need seven to eight hours of good quality sleep every night — the quality of sleep being just as, if not more, important than the total hours. Pregnant women, however, may need a few more hours of sleep per night or a few short naps during the day; growing a baby inside your tummy can be exhausting work!
But how do they honestly expect us to do that when it’s so uncomfortable to sleep while pregnant in the first place?
Insomnia and Pregnancy
Insomnia is especially common in the first and third trimesters. From the hormones to the not-always-in-the-morning sickness to the constant need to pee, there are all sorts of obstacles pregnant women need to overcome just to get their seven to eight hours. As your belly begins to grow, it also becomes increasingly difficult to assume your favorite sleeping positions, especially for stomach sleepers.
We get it. A good night’s sleep — something that once seemed so simple and easy to achieve — now feels like a nightly challenge. But don’t worry! Here are some tips for better sleep while pregnant:
Establish a Nightly Routine
Establishing a regular, nightly routine tells your body (and hopefully the baby, too) that it’s time for bed — you’ll have to get used to enforcing bedtime! It’s important to give yourself time to relax and wind down from the day, rather than simply hopping into bed and expecting to drift into REM immediately. Reading can be a peaceful pre-sleep activity, if only to get your busy mind off the happenings of the day. Minimize the amount of fluids you drink right before bed, too, or else be plagued with more frequent trips to the bathroom throughout the night.
During the day, it’s important to make time for fitness — within the parameters of what’s considered safe for pregnant ladies, of course. Those who are active tend to get more restful sleep than those who are not, in addition to all the other benefits that fitness provides. Exercise should not be any time near your nightly routine, however; be sure to get your reps in at least two hours before you go to bed to avoid an untimely adrenaline rush.
Get in the Right (Actually, Left) Position
It can be especially difficult to get comfortable as your belly grows. Especially those who were traditionally stomach sleepers, resting and napping casually in a Tummy Cradle can act as a necessary break on a sore and tired back. Because everyone needs the flexibility to move and adjust positions while asleep, however, it’s best not to sleep all night in a Tummy Cradle — instead, it’s recommended for expectant mothers to sleep on their left side to ensure a direct flow of nutrient-rich blood to the fetus.
Take a Nap
Naps are typically frowned upon by sleep scientists because they disrupt a person’s sleeping schedule. Researchers at the National Sleep Foundation, however, suggest that a 20 to 30-minute nap not too close to bedtime can actually benefit pregnant women who struggle to sleep throughout the night. To find back relief while napping, give Tummy Cradle a try!
Other Remedies for a Tired Mom-to-Be
In addition to the tips listed above, avoiding spicy foods throughout the day can vastly improve heartburn, a common blocker for pregnant women in pursuit of a good night’s sleep. Taking care of yourself, including taking active steps to calm your mom-to-be nerves and improve mental health, can put the mind at ease and allow for restful sleeping.
Found something even better that works for you? Share your techniques in the comments below!