How to get the best night’s sleep possible during pregnancy
It seems kind of obvious, but sleep during pregnancy can be a real problem for some expecting Mumma’s. For many women, the most frustrating thing of all is that they are feeling more tired and worn out than they knew possible. Not only that, they also have people endlessly telling them that they need to ‘get all the sleep you can before baby arrives!’
Yeah, thanks. That’s super helpful.
While there are no cure-alls to guarantee a good night’s sleep when you’re pregnant, there are plenty of hacks to help optimise your chances. Here are some of my favourites!
Birth Beat’s Top Pregnancy Sleep Hacks
First Trimester Sleep:
In the first trimester, there aren’t usually too many physical issues that prevent you from sleeping relatively normally. Your bump isn’t too big, back aches and pains haven’t set in and you’re feeling so dead tired some days you could pretty much sleep anywhere. However, there are some symptoms that may contribute to sleep difficulty.
Managing Morning Sickness
Look, let’s agree that morning sickness is poorly named. Some women struggle with morning sickness at the exact opposite time of day, making bed time a little tricky. Eating smaller, regular meals throughout the day rather than trying to force down a big dinner just an hour or so before bed can help. Try snacking on bland foods such as crackers.
For some women, it may be a problem that doesn’t pass after the first trimester, or is quite severe. If you’re really struggling with nausea and vomiting, speak to your healthcare provider to discuss treatment options.
Second and Third Trimester Sleep:
As you progress into the second trimester, you’ll probably hear that you need to avoid sleeping on your back. The weight of the baby can apply pressure to a large vein known as the inferior vena cava, making it more difficult for your body to move blood back to the heart from your feet and legs. This isn’t something you should worry about so much that it keeps you awake, but more so something to be mindful of. More than likely, your body will naturally move out of this position anyway as it can get uncomfortable.
As your bump will be getting too big for tummy sleeping by now, what you’re left with is side-sleeping. This in itself can get uncomfortable, especially if you’re experiencing pelvic pain and/or back pain. My top tip? All the pillows!!
An extra pillow placed between your knees can help alleviate pressure on your lower back and pubic bone (many women feel discomfort in this area, especially in later pregnancy). Another one under your tummy will help to support your gorgeous, growing bump, and one placed behind your back for added support. It’s a little tricky rolling over at times (which let’s be honest it can be anyway!) but it can make a huge difference to your comfort once you get into position. Or you can try one of the many pregnancy pillows on the market – experiment, and see what works for you.
Hydration is key for you and baby throughout pregnancy, so you need to make sure you’re getting plenty of water throughout the day. When it comes to sleep though, more fluid equals even more trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Try and stop drinking water, tea etc. at least an hour or so before bedtime. Keep a water bottle beside your bed and take small sips if you need to and be sure to drink loads of water as soon as you wake up.
Heartburn can become an issue for many women as their pregnancy progresses and it can be particularly annoying when you lay down to sleep. Try and eat dinner at least 2-3 hours before bed to give your food time to digest.
Bed Time Routine
Giving yourself consistent bedtime and wake time is essential for improving sleep during pregnancy. You really do need a good 7-8 hours every night – growing a human is no joke so sleep is key! A good routine will help you consistently get enough hours and hopefully help your body get into a rhythm if you stick to it.
If it helps you, create a bedtime routine or ritual. This could include turning off all your bright, overhead lights after dinner and using lamps and candles, listening to calming music, having a shower or bath, rubbing oil or moisturiser on your tummy, legs and feet as a mini pamper for yourself – whatever it is that you find relaxing and that you can do every night. Just a few simple rituals followed every night, will help signal to your brain that it’s sleep time.
Relax and Meditate
Many women also find meditation and breathing exercises can help them unwind for a good sleep. Inside your Ultimate Online Birth Course, we have a 15-minute, pregnancy-specific guided relaxation which can be hugely beneficial. Or there are plenty of apps such as Calm and Insight Timer that offer guided meditations. Even if this is something you’ve never tried before, you might find you really enjoy the ‘me’ time and it helps to calm all those thoughts that pop up just as you’re trying to go to sleep.
Plan and Organise
It’s kind of a no-brainer that you’ve got a lot on your mind when you’re pregnant. Not to mention the pregnancy hormones! So, it’s pretty natural that your to-do list can start racing through your mind when you’re about to go to sleep. Try simply jotting down a few dot points in a notebook before you go to bed. The simple act of writing down a thought can actually transfer it to a different part of your brain so that it’s not front and centre when all you want to do is relax.
Limit Blue Light Screens
Finally, and this is a big one for everyone, not just pregnant Mums. Limit your exposure to the blue light that emits from mobile phones and other electronic devices. This type of light literally wakes up your brain and disrupts your circadian rhythms (our body’s natural sleep cycle). If you’re scrolling Instagram while you’re laying in bed about to drift off, your poor brain is completely overwhelmed with ‘alert, wake-up’ signals.
Give yourself a break from the tech at least an hour before bed, if not longer. Commit to making your bedroom a phone-free zone and instead make it a time for actually being present with your partner or reading. Try to make the most of this precious time and soak it all up. (I know, you get so tired of hearing this when you’re pregnant with your first baby but it’s true).
After all, it won’t be too long until your gorgeous bubba arrives!