Pregnancy is hard work, and you’ll need your sleep. One of the cruel realities is that a good night’s sleep during pregnancy remains elusive, if not impossible for most pregnant women, at some point during their pregnancy. While you might not be able to sleep like a baby, there are some ways you can improve your chances for better sleep during pregnancy.
1. Exercise. Getting your self good and tired out can’t hurt your chances of getting some quality shut eye. It’s also been shown that regular exercise can reduce the frequency of leg cramps, which many women are more prone to during pregnancy. Just don’t exercise within a couple of hours of bedtime — that rush of endorphins and adrenaline can keep you awake long after you’ve hit the sack.
2. Relaxation. You should incorporate some forms of relaxation into your day, and particularly as part of your bedtime routine. Yoga is a good form of both exercise and relaxation, just be sure that you’re following a prenatal routine. Meditation, a hot bath, or even reading a book are all ways that you can relax before going to sleep. Relaxation can help you leave the stresses and worries of the day out of the bedroom, allowing you to sleep better at night.
3. Sleep-Friendly Diet. While you’re cravings may be telling you to indulge in that enchilada, you’ll regret that choice when you’re up with a case of raging heartburn. Anything spicy, fatty or acidic are not foods that promote sleep during pregnancy. In order to avoid heartburn, upset stomach or constipation in the middle of the night, don’t eat within two hours of going to bed. Try propping yourself up with pillows to sleep in a semi reclining position, and be sure to keep some antacids near the bed in case you have to pop a couple in the middle of the night. Also, either cut caffeine completely from your diet, or limit your intake for several hours before bedtime. Try drinking some caffeine-free herbal tee or a warm cup of milk before going to bed to relax you. If you find that you experience nausea at night, keep some crackers next to your bed. Some women find that their prenatal vitamins make them feel nauseous — if this is the case, decide if you’d rather have your sleep and take them during the day or if you can sleep through the nausea.
5. Stay Hydrated. Be sure to keep yourself well hydrated throughout the day, and even at night. Even though this may mean that you have to take a couple extra potty breaks in the middle of the night, staying well hydrated may mean fewer headaches, less swelling, etc.
4. Napping. Believe it or not, one to two catnaps during the day can actually improve your sleep during pregnancy. Avoiding becoming overtired keeps you relaxed, and your body doesn’t put out adrenaline to keep you moving when you should be sleeping.
5. Routine. Get yourself into a regular nighttime routine. By going to bed the same time every night, your body will become accustomed to a regular bedtime.
6. Comfortable Bed. Pregnancy may be the time to get that new mattress you and your husband have been wanting. Although the softness should fit your preference, it should provide good, even support of your body — no waterbeds! A good mattress can make all the difference in getting quality sleep during pregnancy, so if you can, don’t skimp on the mattress. If you have anything smaller than a king or a queen sized mattress, you may also want to upsize — women tend to take up a little more space when pregnant for lots of reasons! Choose comfy bed linens that will breathe well, and layer blankets for those hot flashes pregnant women tend to get.
7. Pajamas. If you sleep in pajamas, you may need to get some maternity pjs for added comfort. Sleep shirts, elasticized pajama bottoms shorts all work well. Since pregnant women often experience hot and cold flashes due to hormones and poor circulation, wear breathable cotton so you stay warm, but not overheated.
8. Support Pillows. Women no longer have to resort to creative pillow arrangements to comfortably sleep during pregnancy. While the old pillow-between-the-knees-pillow-under-the-belly-pillow-behind-the-back trick may work in a pinch, there are many maternity pillows on the market that do the job of two to three separate pillows. The body pillow is long enough to hug and support your belly, and maybe your knee. A wrap-around maternity pillow is long for hugging and supporting the belly, but curves up between your knees to help align your hips and spine for better comfort. A pregnancy wedge can support either your belly or back.
9. Room Temperature. Your husband will be jumping for joy now that you want the room to be a little cooler than usual. With all that extra heat your body is generating cooking up that baby, you may find that you’re more comfortable turning down the thermostat. You can always pile on an extra blanket if you find yourself a bit chilly in the middle of the night.
10. Sleep Positions. By your second trimester, you’ll find that sleeping on your belly is no longer an option, and sleeping on your back is no longer safe for your baby. Get used to sleeping on your left side, which is the safest position for sleeping during pregnancy. This allows the maximum flow of blood and oxygen to your baby. It is safe to sleep on your right side as well, and this may be necessary if you need to change positions periodically.