While moms-to-be anticipate getting up several times a night after a new baby arrives, many do not realize that some of the changes that occur during pregnancy can make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep before the baby arrives. As a follow-up to last week’s blog post on making room for sleep, this post will cover specific tips for getting good sleep during pregnancy.
While experiences can differ from woman to woman and pregnancy to pregnancy, the following changes can cause sleep disturbances:
- Urinary frequency
- Vivid dreams
- Anxiety or worry
- Difficulty getting comfortable
- Leg cramps
- Back aches
- Increased heart rate
- Shortness of breath
Listed below are a variety of suggestions that can help reduce the number of sleep disturbances you may experience during pregnancy. Try a variety of them and find the ones that work best for you.
- Eat a healthy and nutritious diet.
- Avoid caffeine in all forms or consume it in the morning or early afternoon only.
- Drink plenty of water; 64 to 80 ounces per day is recommended. However, try to taper off your water consumption in the evening to avoid waking up to use the restroom multiple times.
- Avoid eating heavy meals within two hours of going to bed. You may wish to have a light snack – something with protein and carbohydrates – to help stave off hunger. An evening snack may also lessen any nausea you may be experiencing. Avoid sugary snacks as they can give you an energy boost.
- Keep your bedroom cool. If the weather is appropriate, try opening your window to get some fresh air.
- Practice relaxation exercises prior to going to bed. There are many options, including: deep breathing, mindfulness, meditation or yoga.
- Choose a comfortable position. It is recommended that you sleep on your side, especially as pregnancy progresses. However, do not worry if you wake up and find yourself on your back. Trust that your body will find the best positions to sleep.
- Use lots of pillows for support. It can be helpful to put one between your legs and one under your abdomen.
- Exercise regularly, but not too close to bedtime. Exercising during pregnancy can help alleviate other common ailments as well.
- Taking 30 to 60 minute naps during pregnancy can help with fatigue. Avoid napping too close to bedtime.
- Leave a night light on in the bathroom instead of turning on an overhead light. Exposing yourself to bright lights can make it more difficult to fall back to sleep.
- Enroll in a childbirth class and educate yourself about labor and delivery to help ease some worry and anxiety.
- Practice some of the other sleep hygiene practices found in this post.
Know that it is normal, especially in the last few weeks of pregnancy, for it to be difficult to sleep and get comfortable. Make yourself as comfortable as possible and try to get a few hours of rest whenever you can.