Sleep During Pregnancy
Interrupted sleep due to sleep disturbances are hard on everyone. You may be in a situation where you have a little one that doesn’t sleep great which is cutting into your dreamland hours or you may be expecting a child and the lovely symptoms of pregnancy are what is cutting into your sleep time!
This post is geared towards all of the glowing mommas who are expecting a child! There are a wide range of pregnancy symptoms that can affect sleep through all of the trimesters. Nausea during the first trimester, leg cramps in the second trimester, and sporting your baby belly in the third trimester, are just to name a couple of pesty disturbances that take place during pregnancy.
Sleep problems are very common during this time as about 78% of women have insomnia or other sleep problems during pregnancy. This does not leave very high numbers for those lucky enough to go through the 9 months with no disturbances to their sleep! With many physical and emotional changes taking place it really is no surprise that the percentage of women having sleep problems is so high.
Common sleep problems during pregnancy
Nausea & vomiting (“morning sickness” does not mean it only happens in the morning)
Not being able to get comfortable
Feeling hot or overheating
Swelling in fingers, hands, feet and ankles
Restless legs or other body parts
More frequent and vivid dreams
Increased fetal movement
Braxton-Hicks (cramping of the uterus typically in late 2nd or 3rd trimester)
Excitement or anxiety about the babies arrival
All of these symptoms can be due to changes that are happening in your body at different times throughout your pregnancy. You may experience none, some, or all of these symptoms at one time or another. There is not one symptom that is “easier” or more bearable than another. They all affect everyone differently and nobody likes to lose sleep let alone from one of the points above.
Tips to Encourage Healthy Sleep During Pregnancy
Have a bedroom Sanctuary. Set up your bedroom in a way that is conductive to sleep. This includes having the room very dark to help encourage sleep hormones, adjust the temperature so that the room is on the cooler side keeping your comfortable, use a sleep inducing room spray such as a lovely lavender spray that you can lightly spray on your pillow and in the room to encourage relaxation. Check out Chickweed&Clover All Natural Products for their amazing lavender room spray.
**Your sanctuary should be a place for sleep and sex only. This is not a beneficial place to watch TV, or use other electronics as this can disrupt your bodies sleep rhythms.
Establish a bedtime routine. Yes, sleep routines are important for BOTH children and adults! Having a sleep routine allows your body time to wind down and relax before going to bed. It helps to set the body up for a more restful sleep. If you can begin your “routine” by slowing down after dinner time. Enjoy light activities that help your body to relax such as reading (avoid something that you may not be able to put down), light play with the kids such as a puzzle or reading some stories, calming music, a warm bath, have your partner give a light massage, light stretching or relaxing yoga poses. All of these activities are geared towards helping your body wind down from the day. If you can implement these in a dimmer area of the house with less stimulation then that is even better.
Set a healthy bedtime for yourself. If you have children, work, or have other commitments that keep your day busy then often times night time is the BEST time as it allows for some you time! This is very important but it is also important to keep in mind that a healthy bedtime allows your body time to restore and process all of the changes taking place. Aim to be asleep as close to 10 p.m. as possible as this is the time when your body naturally begins it’s repairing process.
Use sleep positions and aids that help encourage sleep. Side lying (left is better) is a position that helps to take stress and pressure off of your lower back. Try a mattress topper for more comfort and support. Use a pillow to help get comfortable. Placing a billow between your legs can help support the weight of your top leg which helps to reduce lower back pain. You can also pace a smaller pillow under your growing belly to help support the weight of your uterus. If at all possible try to avoid sleeping on your back once you are past your first trimester. When lying on your back the weight of the uterus is rested on your spine, back muscles, intestines, and major blood vessels. This can lead to a very sore back, hemorrhoids, impaired circulation that can cause swelling in your legs, and this position may also lower blood pressure which can make you feel dizzy. Find a position and sleep aid that works best for you but keep in mind the above points if you are feeling discomfort.
Focus in on your diet. Foods can have a huge impact on sleep. Eliminating stimulating food and drinks all together can make a difference on sleep but especially if you can eliminate these items in the second half of the day. Stimulating food items include: caffeine, chocolate, spices, grains, beans, dairy, and MSG items. Stimulating foods such as the grains, beans, and dairy can disrupt your digestive system making it very difficult to sleep if you have an upset stomach or bloating. Grains are also known to bind to healthy cholesterol that our bodies need to produce sleep inducing hormones therefore eliminating them from our digestive tract.
- Eat light meals and snacks before bed.
- Take a look at foods that encourage sleep versus those that prevent sleep on my “Eat to Sleep” blog.
- Eat foods that your body digests more easily.
- Limit fluids after 6 p.m. to reduce trips to the washroom
Have downtime during the day. We have included using a sleep routine before bed but it is also a good idea to have a little bit of time during your day where you can relax, let go of any stressors that may be affecting you and clear your mind. Think of it as a half way point so that you won’t have to do it all right before bed taking up sleep time. Do what you enjoy doing during this time and what relaxes you. It may be going for a walk, yoga class, swimming, journaling, crafting, etc.
Get some fresh air and exercise. This goes with the having some downtime. This is the perfect opportunity to keep your body healthy and rejuvenated and enjoying some downtime.
Use a relaxation technique once in bed. Using a relaxation technique such as progressive muscle relaxation can help to encourage you to fall asleep. Begin with your feet and work your way up imagining each muscle falling asleep.
Resettle your body if you can’t sleep. So often we get to bed and then lay there watching the clock or counting sheep! If you are stuck in this trap then you may need to do a quick restart of a relaxing activity. One great way of doing this is to keep a journal beside your bed. During the times you cannot fall asleep or maybe wake up and then can’t fall back asleep try writing down what you are thinking about. It doesn’t have to be neat, in order, spelled correctly, or even make sense. But it can help you clear your mind and resettle. If the bedroom is making you feel crazy then keep the journal in a quiet and relaxing spot in the house. Get up, keep lights dim, grab some warm water, and sit and write down what you’re thinking. When you begin to feel tired then head off to bed.
Getting healthy amounts of sleep during pregnancy can benefit mom when it comes to the big day when the baby is going to arrive. When you are well-rested your body is in a more physically and mentally prepared state to welcome the labor process and help to eliminate risk of complications. There has even been research confirming that the amount of sleep in late pregnancy may be a determining factor in labor length and type. It states that stress hormones can affect the labor process by delaying or extending labor and that sleep helps to balance these stress hormones.
Pregnancy is a wonderful time full of all sorts of stimulation. Do what works best for you and if any of the above points can help then that is great! Take it each day at a time and before you know it your bundle of joy will be here soon!!