8 Ways To Get A Better Night Sleep During Pregnancy
Many women struggle with sleeplessness in pregnancy. According to Your Pregnancy Week by Week, “nearly 80% of all pregnant women have trouble sleeping at some time during pregnancy” and “many moms-to-be wake up five or more times a night”(91).
There are a variety of reasons why this sleeplessness can occur. Many women naturally sleep lighter when they are pregnant. Others may be woken up throughout the night because of;
· hormonal changes
· vivid dreams
· painful leg cramps
· heartburn or shortness of breath
· frequent trips to the bathroom
· difficulty finding a comfortable position to sleep in
· stresses, tension and worries
· an active baby that likes to move during the night
Sleep deprivation can cause many problems. The Mother of All Pregnancy Books states that it can cause “difficulty concentrating, difficulty making decisions or solving problems, forgetfulness, irritability, depression, gastrointestinal complaints, food cravings and daytime sleepiness” (208). Research also shows that “sleeping for less than six hours a night during the last three to four weeks of pregnancy can increase the length of labour and increase your likelihood of requiring a Caesarean section” (208).
To help you avoid some of the issues that can occur when you are sleep deprived, here are eight tips to help you sleep better.
1. Keep stress to a minimum. Try to have a time each day where you can relax.
2. Lightly exercise each day. Go for a brisk walk or do some form of exercise that you enjoy doing. Avoid doing this before bedtime or you may energize yourself more
3. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. It is also a good idea to go to bed earlier if you are waking often throughout the night.
4. Avoid liquids and foods containing caffeine and drink less after 4pm. This well help you sleep better, and help with those frequent trips to the bathroom that you are making during the night.
5. Have a warm bath, ask your spouse for a soothing massage, listen to calming music, read a book or write in your journal before bed. Watching television, going on the computer, and looking at your phone will make it more challenging for you to fall asleep. It is also a good idea to avoid the temptation to do those things when you wake in the night, as they will make it more challenging for you to fall back asleep.
6. Enjoy a light snack before bedtime. According to Dr. William Sears, “You’re more likely to get restful sleep after eating foods that contain the natural sleep-inducing amino acid tryptophan; it is found in whole grains, dairy products, non-fatty meats (especially turkey) and fruit” (The Pregnancy Book, 74).
7. Decrease the temperature in your bedroom. Most people sleep better in a cooler room.
8. Make your bed as comfortable as you can; use lots of pillows and blankets. As you move farther into your pregnancy sleeping on your stomach and back will become increasingly uncomfortable and this isn’t ideal for baby. Sleeping on your left side with a pillow under your head and between your legs is a great position to sleep in because it enhances circulation to the placenta. You can also use a small wedge shaped pillow under your stomach which will take some of the pressure off of your hips. Sleeping in an upright position may help those pregnant moms who are suffering with heart burn.
Curtis, Glade B., and Judith Schuler. Your Pregnancy Week by Week. Da Capo/Lifelong Books, 2008.
Douglas, Ann. The Mother of All Pregnancy Books: an All-Canadian Guide to Conception, Birth ad Everything in Between. Collins, 2015.
Sears, William, et al. The Pregnancy Book. Little, Brown and Co., 1997.
About the Author
Jennifer Poehlke is a mother of four and a DONA trained and Birth Arts International Certified Birth Doula. Jennifer services BC’s Fraser Valley with her company, Supported Beginnings Doula Services. Her mission is to encourage, empower and support women during their pregnancy, birth and postpartum journeys. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org at her website www.supportedbeginnings.ca or her Facebook page https://m.facebook.com/supportedbeginningsdoulaservices/
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