How to Sleep During Pregnancy

Sleeping While Pregnant

While ‘stay rested’ seems like wonderful advice for your nine-month journey, it’s easier said than done for many pregnant women. Difficulty sleeping during pregnancy can arise for different reasons throughout the trimesters. Here are some common causes for pregnancy sleep disruptions and how to deal with them, including finding the best sleeping position during pregnancy.

How to Sleep During the First Trimester

In the first trimester, your body is new to coping with uncomfortable symptoms like morning sickness and fatigue. During this time, frequent urination, vomiting or nausea, anxiety, or heartburn can keep you awake at night. While there is not much you can do about these pregnancy signs and symptoms themselves, there are some measures you can take to help you get a good night’s sleep:

  • Cut back on fluids close to bedtime. Drink plenty of water during the day but slightly less in the evening to cut down on those nocturnal bathroom visits.

  • Eat right for a good night’s sleep. A balanced diet during pregnancy rich in vitamins and nutrients can help improve your energy levels. However, since heartburn can keep you up all night, you’ll want to eat small, frequent meals and avoid spicy, acidic or fried foods to help you get a good night’s sleep.

  • Jot down your anxieties. If you find that stress is keeping you awake, or you’re worried about your new pregnancy, try to keep a journal beside your bed, and write down any concerns you have before you switch off the light. This may help alleviate your stress and help you fall asleep.

How to Sleep During the Second Trimester

Try to sleep during pregnancy’s second trimester as much as is healthy. Usually, this is the best period to catch up on all that much-needed rest and relaxation. Many mums-to-be find that their sleep improves during the second trimester as the need to urinate decreases. However, your changing body shape may present some sleep problems, such as back pain. You may also get leg cramps, and if you have a particularly active baby, you may be woken up by the baby’s movements during the night.

For sleeping better during the second trimester, you can:

  • Find a position that’s easy on your back. One of the most common sleep complaints during pregnancy is finding a comfortable position to sleep in. It’s important to relieve the pressure on your back as your belly grows larger, so try not to sleep on your back. For the best sleeping position during pregnancy, try lying on your left side with your knees bent and place a pillow between your knees for lower-back support. Sleeping on the left side helps the flow of blood and nutrients to the placenta and also helps the kidneys get rid of waste products from your body, so may even reduce swelling. You can also buy a body pillow, which can be moulded along the length of your body. Some women find relief by sleeping in a slightly elevated position with lots of pillows behind and around them. Avoid lying on your stomach, as this is not only gets more uncomfortable as your bump gets bigger, but could also put pressure on the baby.

  • Stay active. Physical activity might help prevent leg cramps and boost energy, not to mention that regular physical activity can promote better sleep, just avoid being too active in the evening. Make sure you check with your doctor before taking up exercise while pregnant .

  • Set the mood for sleep. Make sure your bedroom is quiet, cool and dark to help you get to sleep. Use room-darkening shades, earplugs and a fan, and try to avoid using light-emitting screens just before bedtime and get rid of any digital distractions you may have.

How to Sleep During the Third Trimester

Sleep during pregnancy’s third trimester is elusive. During the last trimester of your pregnancy, the need to urinate frequently often returns – along with heartburn, leg cramps and discomfort due to your expanding belly.

To help prepare your body for sleep:

  • Relax before bed. Do something relaxing before you head to bed, such as taking a warm bath for 15 minutes. You can also try deep breathing techniques, progressive muscle relaxation, where you slowly tense and relax each muscle group, or visualisation, when you picture yourself in a peaceful and calm place. Some relaxing exercise, like some gentle forms of yoga or tai chi, can get your body into a peaceful state before bed.

  • Establish a sleep routine. Go to bed at the same time each night and try to wake up at the same time. Take naps during the day if you need more sleep. Getting into a regular bedtime routine can help your body to shut down for a good night’s sleep.

  • Elevate your head. This can help decrease the chance of heartburn or snoring.

Though it may seem difficult to get a good night’s sleep while pregnant, you’ll find that it’s even more so once you have a new baby in the house, so try to stock up on your shut-eye now. It might be tempting to work into the night getting ready for your new baby, but remember to put your needs first. The nursery decorations can wait until the morning.

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