There’s a really frustrating problem that can cause angst, stress and exhaustion during your pregnancy days and that’s the double-whammy of feeling extra fatigued whilst also struggling to sleep. It can seem painfully unfair, and no amount of anyone telling you that it’s preparing you for the newborn days is actually helping. Knowing how to sleep during pregnancy, from the best sleeping position, to tips to sleep better, is essential.
How to get sleep during pregnancy: the problem
It’s very common, during the first trimester when your hormones are adjusting enormously, to feel very tired and fatigued. Even if you’re getting more sleep, it’s not unusual to feel tired.
As your pregnancy progresses, and particularly during the third trimester, you may feel tired due to the added weight and reduced lung capacity. You may also find it harder to sleep with your bump, or because you feel like your baby has turned up the thermostat, or is using your bladder as a trampoline.
Then there may be the agony of heartburn, pelvic girdle pain, or simply late night worry about maternity pay calculations or your hopes and dreams for parenthood.
The good news is that whilst you may feel tired, no harm is being done to your little one. But we know that lack of sleep can feel like torture to you, so try these tips for good sleep during pregnancy.
Pregnancy sleeping tips
1. Get the position right
In short, the best sleeping position in early pregnancy is the one that is most comfortable for you. Later in pregnancy, after 28 weeks, it’s best to sleep on your side as this has been shown to reduce stillbirth risk. One of the best things to help pregnancy sleep is to pop a pillow between your knees and under your bump, when lying on your side. This is a soothing and supportive position. You can use specialist pregnancy pillows too. If you wake on your back, do not worry – the research focused on the position in which the mother-to-be fell asleep, not whether she woke in the night in a different position.
2. Know what and when to drink
If you’re struggling to sleep because of frequent trips to the loo, then try to reduce the amount you’re drinking in the last few hours before trying to sleep. Avoid caffeinated drinks as much as possible. If you can’t quite kick your tea or coffee habit, try to ensure you’ve had all of your caffeine before midday – caffeine stays in the system for a very long time!
3. Fully empty your bladder
With a growing bubba up against it, and everything all in different places, it may be that you’re not fully emptying your bladder on toilet trips. Consciously check, and also have a little move around and you may get an extra 45 minutes sleep!
4. Choose your PJs wisely
During pregnancy the hormones increase blood flow to your skin, making you hotter. Choose lightweight cotton nightwear that is breathable.
5. Try a tepid shower if you’re too hot
If you struggle to drop off because you’re too hot, have a tepid shower just before bed.
6. Calm your restless legs
Many women experience Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) during pregnancy, especially in the third trimester. There are a few things you can try to alleviate your RLS and prevent it from stopping you sleeping. Try magnesium cream or lotion, massage your legs before sleep (or get your partner to!), enjoy a warm bath, or stretch the muscles well immediately before bedtime.
7. Soothe your worries
Anxiety and worry during pregnancy is very common and can make sleep elusive because of thoughts rushing around your head. If this is you, try to share your worries during the day with a supportive person, such as your midwife. Relaxation methods, such as mindfulness, can also help enormously.
Many pregnant women find that their anxiety is exacerbated by feeling unprepared. At Bloss we have all the helpful advice you need during pregnancy. Be informed and your worries will lessen.
8. Expose yourself to daylight
Our bodies rely on cues from daylight to set and regulate our sleeping rhythms. Try to always get plenty of natural light in the morning, and stick to getting up at the same time every day (no matter how tempting that lie-in seems). Then, in the evening, reduce your exposure to bright light, especially blue light from screens.
9. Get enough exercise
Getting enough exercise can help to ensure you sleep. This may be tricky during pregnancy, but walking, swimming, Pilates and yoga are all ideas you can try.
10. Routines are good
We are fundamentally creatures of habit. Your body and mind may need new calming signals to tell you it’s time to sleep. Create a structured wind-down routine that is the same every night.
11. Watch the naps
The temptation to nap can seem enormous, especially if you’re not sleeping well at night. However, take care that naps aren’t actually making the problem worse. If you do nap, make sure it is earlier in the day, and for no more than 40 minutes or so.
12. Eat well
By choosing to eat a healthy diet rich in fruit and veg, healthy sources of protein, and not too much refined carbohydrate, you’ll be primed for a good night’s sleep. Check out the Bloss advice on nutrition in pregnancy.
13. Banish the heartburn
Heartburn is the nasty troublemaker that causes sleepless nights for many when pregnant. Try sleeping on your left side with your head propped up slightly on pillows. This allows gravity and your anatomy to work in your favour. Don’t eat for a few hours before bed and avoid foods which may be a trigger for you, such as spicy foods. If you’re really struggling, do talk to your GP.
14. Readjust when you need to
If you’re really struggling with lack of sleep, rope in help from older children, or try to make changes at work, to ensure that you can readjust and rest when you need to.
15. Don’t smoke or drink alcohol
Not only can smoking and alcohol harm your baby, they can be detrimental to your sleep.
Lack of sleep during pregnancy is difficult to manage. However, with the above advice on how to sleep during pregnancy, you should be able to settle down to a blissful journey into the Land of Nod. Remember that any difficulties now aren’t forever. Whilst a baby will bring sleep disruption, you won’t have a bump to contend with!