"Sleep now, while you can!"
How many times have you heard this phrase over recent months?
And how many times has it annoyed you, given that getting a good night's sleep whilst pregnant isn't as easy as it may seem?
Don’t worry, there are ways you can get a good night's sleep and wake up feeling refreshed, even during the third trimester... continue reading to discover how to sleep better during pregnancy!
Sleeping during pregnancy: why it’s so important... and why it’s so hard!
Your level of tiredness increases enormously during pregnancy. No doubt you’ll have noticed by now, especially during those first few months. It’s mainly due to your body needing time to adjust to being pregnant as well as the fact that it is using up all your energy reserves to provide nourishment to your unborn baby.
You may also have noticed that, although very tired, you’re not able to sleep as you’d like nor for how long you’d like. Sometimes you wake up because you need to pee or because you have cramp, sometimes because you can't find a comfortable position, and sometimes because the baby has decided to do a bit of gymnastics in your womb during the middle of the night. It’s important to know that the baby's metabolism is always active, and your body is constantly supplying it with food and oxygen... this can also be one of the causes of pregnancy insomnia.
So, what should you do: give up and just stay awake? No, because sleep during pregnancyis vital for both the baby’s and the mum’s health.
In fact, a study by the University of Pittsburgh has proven that poor sleep during pregnancy can negatively interfere with the immune system, leading to various complications, including low birth weight.
Another study, published in the Obstetric Medicine journal, noted that sleep deprivation during pregnancy is associated with several complications, such as more painful childbirth, greater need of requiring medical intervention at the birth, pre-term birth, and an increased likelihood of developing postpartum depression.
In short: science shows us that there are many reasons why it’s important for you to get a good night's sleep when you are pregnant.
If you are struggling, take comfort in the fact that it’s completely normal.
Here’s everything you need to know about how to have a restful night’s sleep during pregnancy!
How to sleep during pregnancy: sleeping positions & good sleeping habits
There are a number of ways you can get a good night's sleep during pregnancy. A lot depends on what bothers you while you sleep as well as your daily habits.
Let's take a look at how you can improve your sleep whilst pregnant.....regardless of whatever is keeping you awake!
Best sleeping positions during pregnancy
During the initial stages of pregnancy, your sleeping position doesn't really matter. You can sleep on your stomach, on your back or on your side, whichever you prefer.
Sleeping on your stomach during pregnancy is not forbidden, although it will eventually become uncomfortable as soon as the baby starts to grow. Sleeping on your back is fine too, until your baby bump becomes too big. From then on, sleeping on your back can cause backache, poor circulation, or breathlessness. Sleeping on your stomach, during the third trimester, is only allowed whilst sitting.
The best sleeping position during pregnancy is on your side. More specifically: on your left side, with your knees slightly bent. This increases blood flow, benefiting both mum and baby; your baby receives plenty of nourishment, and your womb is not pressing against your liver – which is what happens when you sleep on your right side.
You can use a pregnancy pillow, to support your bump and to keep your legs in a comfortable position…..yes, that’s right, the same one that you’ll use later on for breastfeeding: it can help improve your sleep too!
How to sleep during pregnancy by adopting good sleeping habits
Your sleeping position is not the only secret to getting a good night's sleep whilst pregnant.
Read on for tips on how to have a restful night's sleep by adopting good sleeping habits.
- Create a relaxing bedtime ritual. You can take a hot bath, drink herbal tea, do yoga or read a few pages of a good book. Try to go to bed at about the same time every night and avoid using computers and mobile phones for at least an hour before going to bed.
- Avoid eating heavy meals and do not eat anything sweet (chocolate included) after dinner. Poor digestion and sugar contribute to insomnia.
- Don't take too many naps during the day. If you’re feeling sleepy, you can have a rest... just not more than half an hour at a time, otherwise you may struggle to fall asleep at bedtime as you won’t feel that tired.
- Post birth, it’s good to get in the routine of doing some sort of physical activity during the day. Pregnancy yoga, swimming or walking will help keep you fit and induce sleep at bedtime.
- If you need to get up frequently to pee during the night, avoid drinking too much in the evening before bedtime. Drink mainly in the mornings and afternoons, then reduce your intake of fluids from dinnertime onwards. However, do continue to keep yourself hydrated, just with smaller amounts of water.
- If you suffer from cramps at night, do some stretching before going to bed or consult your doctor about taking a magnesium supplement.
- If you suffer from unexplained insomnia, don't lie in bed tossing and turning. Get up, even just for a little walk around the house to stretch your legs for a few minutes. You could try reading for a little, then go back to bed. You’ll soon feel sleepy.
- If you suffer from heartburn, sleeping whilst sitting may bring relief. Use a pregnancy pillow to help position yourself comfortably: just remember that your back must be tilted at least 30 degrees.
As you can see, even if it seems rather impossible at times, just through adopting a few changes you can have a restful night's sleep whilst pregnant. With all these tips on how to sleep during pregnancy safely under your belt, we're certain that from now on, both you and your little bump will have the sweetest of dreams!