How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep While Pregnant
Did you know that according to the ‘Sleep patterns and sleep disturbances across pregnancy’ study, three out of four soon-to-be-mums experience sleep problems during their pregnancy? In Australia, 80% of mothers rarely wake up feeling refreshed. There are many reasons this is the case from not being able to get comfortable, to needing to take frequent trips to the bathroom.
But don’t worry, there are things you can do if you are suffering. In this article, we will share the common sleep problems faced during pregnancy and how you can overcome them to get your much-needed rest.
Sleeping problems during pregnancy
Let’s take a look at what the common sleep problems are for pregnant women.
It’s common for pregnant women to wake up in the night due to cramps in the calves which can be very painful. These typically start during the second trimester and continue until delivery. There is no definitive cause for these cramps, but it has been suggested that the following factors play a role:
- Weight gain which causes changes in circulation
- Pressure on the nerves and blood vessels that go to your legs
- A shortage of calcium and magnesium in your diet
Heartburn is another common problem during pregnancy where you feel a burning sensation in the centre of your chest. As you can imagine, the pain can make it hard to fall and stay asleep. The cause is an increase in the hormone progesterone which relaxes the valve between the oesophagus and stomach. This allows stomach acid to pass through into the oesophagus. During the third trimester, the uterus also puts pressure on the stomach and intestines which can worsen the burning sensation.
Frequent bathroom trips
You may also find yourself waking up to use the restroom more often than usual. This can start as early as six weeks after becoming pregnant and can continue throughout your pregnancy. Initially, an increase in progesterone causes a quicker flow of blood through the kidneys and a more frequent filling of the bladder. As you get to the end of your second trimester and into your third, your uterus will begin to take up more room which can put pressure on your bladder and make the problem worse.
Aches and pains
As your growing baby gradually gets larger, he or she puts additional pressure on your body. Common pains occur in the lower abdomen and groin area, in the back, and in the legs. These will likely increase in intensity and become more frequent as you get closer to delivery. When it comes time for bed, you may have a hard time figuring out how to sleep when pregnant. It can be difficult to get comfortable and find a position where you are supported properly.
Restless leg syndrome
Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is when a person feels the strong urge to move their legs. According to WebMD, up to 35% of pregnant women experience this sensation. It can be very annoying, making it hard to fall asleep.
Many soon-to-be-mums have difficulty getting to sleep as they get into their second and third trimesters. Baby Centre reported that 8 out of 10 pregnant mums experience this. It can be a combination of worrying about the upcoming baby and not being able to get very comfortable.
How to get better sleep while pregnant
Now that we’ve covered the common problems let’s look at what you can do to get better sleep.
Best position for sleeping while pregnant
You may not realise it but the position you sleep in may be causing your sleep woes. Many people prefer to sleep on their back or stomach, but these aren’t ideal with a growing belly. During the first trimester, you will likely be able to continue stomach or back sleeping but that all changes in the second and third trimesters.
When you sleep on your back, all of your weight bears down on your spine and the main vein that carries blood to your heart from your lower body. As a result, you can experience increased back pain and circulation problems. As for stomach sleeping, it won’t be possible because you’ll be cramping the baby and it likely won’t be comfortable.
As a result, side sleeping is recommended after 16 weeks of pregnancy. This allows for the best circulation so your baby can get the nutrients and blood he or she needs. Is sleeping on the right side during pregnancy better, or the left? According to WebMD, the left side is best because it keeps your increased body weight from pressing down on your liver. However, either side is okay.
Ensure you have the right mattress
When sleeping on your side, you will have more pressure points, especially as your weight increases. As a result, it will be more important than before that you have the right mattress. A high-quality mattress is designed with support and comfort in mind as can be seen in Sealy’s Posturepedic line. It should keep the spine properly aligned while offering the right amount of comfort to relieve the points of pressure.
The wrong mattress can sag and cause your spine to curve while sleeping. This can result in tossing and turning throughout the night and increased back pain, especially in the lower lumbar region. Additionally, without the right amount of comfort, you can experience sore shoulders and hips as they are absorbing the weight. So be sure your mattress gives you the proper support and comfort level.
Establish a sleep schedule
Getting on a normal sleep schedule can help you to fall asleep each night. You can regulate your sleep pattern by going to bed at the same time each night and waking up at the same time each morning. Also, resist taking naps if you are having any trouble sleeping at night. Prepare for bed about a half hour before you turn in for the night. How many hours should a pregnant woman sleep each night? According to one study, expecting mums should aim for eight hours.
It can also help to relax before bed. Here are some tips to try.
- You can use breathing and meditation techniques which may be able to help you later on during labour as well.
- You can take a nice warm bath.
- Make your bed a place reserved only for rest.
- Don’t work, pay bills, or watch television from bed.
- Usually, pregnant moms are warmer than usual so keep your room cool.
- Get black out shades so that you aren’t woken up before your scheduled time by the sunlight.
- Get a relaxing essential oil like chamomile or lavendar and diffuse it in your room.
- Take time to stretch out your legs, neck, arms and sides before bed.
Diet plays an important role in providing your baby with the nutrition that he or she needs. However, what you eat can also keep you up at night if you aren’t careful. Foods that worsen heartburn include those that are spicy, greasy or have too much citrus. So skip the salsa, cheeseburgers, and lemonade. Caffeine can also make it worse as well as peppermint for some women. In addition to what you eat, when and how much you eat are also factors. Split three big meals into five or six smaller meals, and be sure to eat your last meal about two hours before going to bed.
Last but not least is exercise. It can keep you in shape, boost your mood, relieve stress, and help you get to sleep better when it’s time. Prenatal yoga is a great option for exercise, flexibility, and breathing work. You can also go on walks, use the elliptical, and do light strength training.
Sleep better while pregnant
There are many things that can make sleep difficult when you are pregnant. The good news is there are also several remedies. Remember to sleep on your side, ensure your mattress is providing you the right amount of comfort and support, set a sleep schedule and stick to it, and practice the relaxation, diet, and exercise tips. By doing so, you can help yourself get the sleep you need, so that you can have an enjoyable pregnancy.