During pregnancy, it's not uncommon to contend with sleep disturbances. These are usually due to anxiety and stress, hormonal fluctuations, and physical discomfort. As your pregnancy progresses, you may find it more difficult to find a comfortable position, or you may have to get up several times during the night to empty your increasingly cramped bladder.
But take heart! Read our tips to get a better and more comfortable night's sleep, and the critical rest your body and mind need during this time.
- Drink up! Drink plenty of fluids during the day, but cut down before bedtime to minimize frequent nighttime urination.
- Keep moving. Exercise regularly for optimum health, and to improve circulation (thus reducing nighttime leg cramps). Avoid exercising late in the day — exercise releases adrenaline that can keep you awake at night.
- Reduce stress and anxiety. Stress and anxiety are key culprits in preventing a good night's sleep. Remember that worrying won't help you, but talking about your problems will. Find a friend or a professional who can listen and help you if there are issues in your life that are causing you to worry or feel upset.
- Get into a routine. If you establish a consistent, soothing, and comforting evening routine, you'll be able to relax and drift off to sleep with more ease. As bedtime approaches, try a few soothing rituals like drinking a cup of caffeine-free tea or hot milk, reading a chapter of a pleasant book, taking a warm shower, getting a shoulder massage, or having your hair gently brushed.
- Get into position. During the third trimester, sleep on your left side to allow for the best blood flow to the fetus and to your uterus and kidneys. Avoid lying flat on your back.
- Keep heartburn at bay. To prevent heartburn, don't recline for an hour or two after a meal. If heartburn is a problem, sleep with your head elevated on pillows. Also, avoid spicy, fried, or acidic foods (such as tomato products), as they may worsen symptoms.
- Nap during the day. If you're not getting enough rest at night, take a nap to help reduce fatigue. Find a quiet spot and relax, even if only for a half-hour nap.
- Support your body. Use a special pregnancy body pillow or a regular pillow to support your body. For comfort, try sleeping on your side with one pillow under your knee and another under your belly.
- Watch your diet. Completely eliminate caffeine and alcohol to prevent insomnia. If nausea is a problem for you, try eating frequent bland snacks (like crackers) throughout the day. Keeping your stomach slightly full helps keep nausea at bay. Eat a well-balanced diet. Not only is this crucial for your health and that of your baby, but getting the necessary nutrients will help keep you feeling satisfied — which will help you sleep more soundly.
- Get help. See your doctor for advice if insomnia persists. Now more than ever, it's important to get the rest you need!