Pregnancy is a beautiful time in a woman’s life but brings some unpleasant symptoms. Insomnia, more frequent bathroom trips, cramps, wind, heartburn, sleep apnea, and acid reflux can plague pregnancy. Pregnant women need quality sleep every night, after all, pregnancy is hard work. Better sleep quality can help ease symptoms and sleeping better is easy when you know how, follow these sleep tips for better pregnancy sleep tonight.
A pressure-relieving mattress could ensure the best sleep quality as your growing bump is comfortably cradled
Pregnancy and Sleep
Pregnant women typically have trouble sleeping during the first trimester (week 1-13) as nausea, swollen breasts, increased urination, heartburn, and constipation interrupt sleep. The second trimester (week 14-27) should see symptoms easing, better sleep, and increased energy. Symptoms may reappear in the third trimester (week 28-40+) as the baby is preparing to make its debut. Physical discomfort at night can be eased by strategic pillow placement, some pregnancy pillows are shaped like a pool noodle and can be used in any sleep position. Many women bring their pregnancy pillows into the delivery room for comfort. A pressure-relieving mattress could ensure the best sleep quality as your growing bump is comfortably cradled yet supported. Coupled with a breathable foam or down-alternative pillow, pregnancy sleep woes drift away.
Pregnancy and Sleep Disorders
Pregnancy insomnia is largely experienced in the first and third trimesters. The usual nightly sleep of eight hours becomes a thing of the past as the struggle to fall asleep becomes real and tedious. The first trimester is usually kept a secret from family and colleagues but the daytime sleepiness at work can be hard to explain away. It can be challenging to focus on work when suffering from insomnia. If you can grab a daytime nap, take it. A daytime nap of just 20 minutes is enough to boost energy, focus, and creativity.
Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition where breathing stops and starts intermittently during the night. It may not be enough to wake you up but it can severely disturb sleep quality. Pregnant women who are managing blood pressure issues could be at greater risk of developing sleep apnea. The best sleep position for those with sleep apnea is to sleep with the head and back slightly elevated. A wedge pillow is beneficial for this or stack a couple of pillows behind you. While sleep apnea is a serious condition, there are treatment options available to pregnant women such as a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine. That is worn over the nose and mouth during sleep to assist breathing.
Restless Leg Syndrome
A good night of restorative sleep can be almost impossible with restless leg syndrome. The crawling, pulling, and itching sensation in the legs typically occurs when relaxing or trying to sleep. Low iron levels in the brain have been linked to RLS. In many cases, a simple iron and folic acid supplement are enough to ease restless leg syndrome in pregnant women. Rising estrogen levels during pregnancy can also be to blame, therefore, RLS may ease in the second trimester.
Heartburn and Acid Reflux
Heartburn and sleep while pregnant are not a harmonious combination. During the first trimester, the digestion system slows down as the baby is getting nutrients from the mother. When the placenta takes over by the 13th week, heartburn and acid reflux may ease. Some women experience acid reflux and heartburn throughout their pregnancy. To ease symptoms, sleep slightly elevated on a wedge pillow, keep water and antacids by the bed, and add some gentle nighttime stretching or yoga to your pre-sleep routine to aid the release of gas.
Excessive sleepiness could mean a low level of B vitamins, Iron, or signal depression or anxiety
Do I Need More Sleep When Pregnant?
A pregnant woman may feel 7-9 hours of sleep is not enough. This is partly because of pesky insomnia and nighttime urination disturbing sleep quality. 7-9 hours of sleep per night is adequate while pregnant, adding a daytime nap or sleeping in an extra hour or two will not do any harm. If spending twelve hours per day in bed it might be time to talk to your doctor. Excessive sleepiness could mean a low level of B vitamins, Iron, or signal depression or anxiety.
The Best Pregnancy Sleep Positions
Side sleeping is the most favored sleep position for pregnant women, especially in the second and third trimesters. Lying on your side (aim to sleep on your left side) eases acid reflux and heartburn puts less pressure on the liver and kidneys and eases breathing. Pregnancy pillows add much comfort to side sleeping, one between the legs and behind the back is an ideal placement.
Back sleeping is to be avoided in the second and third trimesters as it is more comfortable and safer for mom and baby to sleep on the left side. Back sleeping can exacerbate back pain and in some small studies was linked to late-pregnancy stillbirth. Try lying on your side with a pillow between the knees.
Stomach sleeping while pregnant should be comfortable in the first trimester but once that belly pops out aim to side sleep. Side sleeping is the most favored sleep position for pregnant women it is comfortable and aids restful sleep all night.
Combi sleepers will get a great benefit from pregnancy pillows as switching sleep positions all night can be difficult to settle into. A body pillow can be used in any sleep position and can help to stay in a side sleeping position when placed behind the back.
How to Sleep Better During Pregnancy
- Unwind: Anxiety is a normal part of pregnancy but learning to destress and unwind can have enormous benefits for mom and baby. A stress-free mind finds it much easier to fall asleep at night. Meditation, walking, listening to calming music, reading before bed, are great ways to unwind before sleep.
- Get Fresh Air: Enjoying fresh air is an essential component of any good sleep strategy. Although pregnancy can bring exhaustion, a few minutes in the fresh air every day is sleep-inducing, mood-boosting, and hugely beneficial to overall health and mental wellbeing.
- Eat Well: Diet plays a major role in overall health and sleep quality. Pregnant women require more daily nutrients but these are best obtained in leafy green vegetables, organic meat and dairy, limiting sugar, and drinking plenty of water. If craving a late-night snack, opt for a bowl of oats, a small banana, or a warm glass of milk to fill your tummy before bed.
- Enjoy Gentle Exercise: The last thing on the mind of a pregnant woman can be an exercise routine but the second trimester when the energy returns is a good time to engage in some physical activity. *including bedroom activities!
- Create a Cozy Sleep Space: A comfortable pressure-relieving mattress on a sleep foundation base is the most important part of your bedroom. Blackout blinds or curtains, comfy bedding, and a tidy sleep space help to relax the mind and body for sleep. Ensure to limit the use of electronics hours before bedtime (or at least one hour before bed) as they can interrupt your delicate circadian rhythm.
When to See Your Doctor
Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing chronic pain or chronic insomnia. Pregnant women are more susceptible to certain medical and sleep conditions. Keeping in regular contact with your doctor will ensure a healthy pregnancy and better sleep quality.
Every pregnant woman experiences pregnancy differently, some sail through with minor symptoms, others have a more harsh experience. It is important to practice self-care when pregnant, there is no reason to feel guilty about overeating, or canceling an engagement to enjoy an early night with a warm bath. Growing that tiny human is an exciting but tiring time. Get some gentle exercise to boost blood flow, and enjoy as much rest as needed, while you can.
How can I Sleep Better When Pregnant?
Better sleep while pregnant can be achieved by winding down well before sleep. Keep TV and electronics out of the bedroom, sleep on a pressure-relieving mattress, and use pregnancy pillows or body pillows for additional comfort. Meditation and fresh air can aid an unquiet mind and drink plenty of water to avoid nighttime headaches.
Can I Hurt my Baby if I Sleep on my Right Side?
Sleeping on the left side is more comfortable and eases acid reflux and heartburn. Sleeping on your right side, particularly during the third trimester, puts uterus pressure on your liver and back sleeping impedes blood flow. Sleep on your left side with a pillow behind your back and between your knees for greater sleep comfort.
Can I Sleep on my Back When Pregnant?
Embrace side sleeping while pregnant as back sleeping and stomach sleeping is off-limits. Particularly from the second trimester. Sleep on your left side, a pillow between your knees and behind your back will boost comfort and blood flow and put less pressure on your liver. Pregnancy pillows are best but any bed pillows will work.