How to get a good night’s sleep whilst pregnant?
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Pregnancy is an incredibly challenging time for parents to be. Alongside all the other challenges it brings, how to get a good night’s sleep whilst pregnant is one of the most common.
Fighting to get comfortable, worrying about the future, going to the toilet every 10 minutes and nausea are just a few troubles you may face. If this sounds like you, you are not alone. We will talk about these issues, and more, and offer tips to make sleep a little less of a battle.
Why does pregnancy cause sleep struggles?
- Your hormone levels fluctuate massively whilst pregnant. Progesterone levels rise, causing you to feel more drowsy during the day which then contributes to restless nights.
- As your uterus expands, more pressure is put on your bladder. This means you will need to get up a lot more during the night to use the toilet.
- As your baby is growing and your body is changing, you will likely feel backache, cramps, restlessness, nausea and general aches and pains. You may also struggle finding a comfortable sleep position.
- Anxieties and emotions: As motherhood draws closer naturally more fears and anxieties about upcoming parenthood can flood the mind.
Most pregnant women will experience at least some, if not all of these hormonal and physical symptoms. If you are suffering with any of the above, don’t lose hope. There are ways it can be managed and improved.
Occasionally persistent sleep problems could be linked to other issues, so if something doesn’t feel right, make sure to get advice from a medical professional.
Why is it important to get a good night’s sleep whilst pregnant?
- Consistent sleep will help contribute to a healthy labour and delivery and help to reduce any risk of childbirth complications.
- Sleep improves cognitive function, which is essential for keeping you mentally active and focused, ready for the arrival of your baby.
- Discomforts such as aches and pains can be reduced through sufficient sleep as it gives your body time to recover and relax.
- Your baby needs sleep to develop. Foetal growth and development primarily happens during this time.
- Without proper sleep, energy levels will be depleted. A pregnant woman needs sufficient energy levels to deal with the demands of pregnancy.
- Sleep is vital for physical regulation. It allows your body to repair tissues, strengthen the immune system and regulate hormones. All of which are essential for pregnancy.
It is recommended that pregnant women aim for 8-10 hours of sleep per night. However, do not feel guilty if you struggle to get this amount regularly. There is only so much you can do, and your body is growing a human!
Treatment for Pregnancy-Related Sleep Issues
- Create a regular, consistent bedtime routine and set a regular sleep/wake cycle. An hour before your aimed bedtime, start to unwind. Do relaxing activities such as reading, meditation, listening to your favourite audiobook, gentle prenatal yoga or have a warm bath. Avoid stimulating activities, eating or drinking and the use of electronic devices during this time.
- Use lighting and sounds to create a peaceful sleep environment. The Sounds U Like musical nightlight has relaxing sleep sounds and white noise features which can help you to drift off. You can also use the nightlight feature for toilet trips during the night, to avoid the stimulation of bright lights and make it easier for you to fall back asleep.
- Pregnancy is a highly stressful time, and not keeping on top of your stress levels can affect sleep. Practising deep breathing exercises, meditation and progressive muscle relaxation before sleep and during the day can help regulate stress levels and make you overall calmer. Confide in people around you if you are struggling, or seek professional help, don’t struggle alone.
- Manage sleeping positions. Use extra pillows to help you feel comfortable, there are many specifically designed pregnancy pillows available to help. Sleeping on the left side is recommended as it allows for optimal blood flow and oxygen delivery to the foetus, but you can also sleep on the right if that is more comfortable for you.
- You will likely be more tired during the day, and want to nap more. Try to stick to a regular nap schedule and don’t nap for too long. It also helps to not nap in your bed so your brain associates your bed only with regular nighttime sleep.
- When able, try to do safe prenatal exercise during the day. Swimming, yoga, walks, prenatal classes or gentle strength training are some examples. Do consult with a health professional prior if you don’t regularly exercise.
Pregnancy is hard, and it is okay to feel like you are struggling balancing everything you should be doing. Remember to look after yourself and be gentle and patient with your body through this time. Positive change, especially with sleep, doesn’t always happen overnight, so give your new sleep routine time and it will get better.