Better Sleep in Pregnancy

Pregnancy is one of the most delicate phases of one’s life.   Your body goes through a remarkable transformation in the process of making another little life within itself. Even if you have been a great sleeper in all your non-pregnant years, the chances are that you will toss and turn through the night during pregnancy. Now is the time that you need a good night's sleep more than ever and unfortunately it is harder than ever to get it, especially in your first and third trimesters. According to the National Sleep Foundation’s (1998 Women and Sleep poll) 78% of women report more disturbed sleep during pregnancy than at other times.

Reasons for disturbed sleep

Reasons for your discomfort may include:

  • Increased size of the abdomen

  • Back pain

  • Heartburn

  • Shortness of breath

  • Insomnia

Sleeping Positions

  • The most preferred sleeping position is to sleep on the side, especially the left side.  Sleeping on your left side will surge the amount of blood and nutrients that reach the placenta and your baby.

  • Avoid sleeping on your back, as it may cause problems with backaches, breathing, the digestive system, and subside the circulation to your heart and your baby.

  • Avoid sleeping on your stomach, as your abdomen undergoes significant changes and makes it more difficult for you to lay on your stomach.

Duration of Sleep

During pregnancy, women need more than 7 hours of sleep per night or a few short naps during the day.  Kathy Lee, a professor of nursing at the University of California San Francisco, found that first-time mothers who got less than 6 hours of sleep at night were 4.5 times more likely to have a C-section and their average length of labor was 10 hours or longer compared with first-time mothers who slept 7 hours or more.

Tips for Better Sleep

We get your plight and bring to you some tips and trick which will help you stay comfortable and safe and get you the sleep you crave.

Sleeping pillow: One of the many reasons for pregnancy insomnia is physical discomforts that it entails, resulting from a protruding belly and swollen feet and hands. To give your belly adequate support, use a pregnancy cushion and turn on your left side with the pillow resting on your belly for proper support. This will ensure that your legs and spine are well positioned during sleep so that you do not suffer from any discomforts.

Yoga and stretching: Light exercises in the early evening, like yoga and stretching help you release your energy and aid you to sleep better. However, remember to space it far away from bedtime as it could then have the adverse effect and could actually sabotage sleep since exercise is energizing. There are many gyms and health clubs offering yoga and stretch classes, specially designed for pregnant women.

Eating Habits: To avoid heartburn while sleeping, avoid spicy, fatty, or fried foods. Avoid caffeine and sugar in all its forms, including chocolate, to prevent it from keeping you up all night.  You can have a light snack before hitting the bed to prevent overnight hunger pangs. It is also a good idea to stay off the water a few hours before you go to sleep, as frequent urination can also disturb the sleeping patterns significantly.

The Wind down: Developing a sleep schedule which will help you unwind, be it a deep breathing routine, a warm bubble bath, a relaxing massage, or a light reading, are proven to relieve stress, anxiety and improve sleep. It indicates your brain that it is time to relax and induces sleep. Sticking to the same schedule will help your brain link those relaxing acts with sleep subconsciously.

Herbal remedies: Even though having caffeine is discouraged during pregnancy, it's fine to drink herbal teas before bed, as it will help you wind down from the day and relax. A cup of chamomile or lavender tea or tulsi tea is the perfect drink to help you drift off at night. However, it is important to remember that just because they are herbal, it is wrong to assume they are safe for pregnancy and one needs to run it by their doctor before taking any herbal tea.  

Aromatherapy: Aromatherapy and essential oils help with sleep and are generally safe during pregnancy. Many expectant mothers find these oils helpful for easing backache, nausea and swollen ankles. Some of the popular favorites are lavender and chamomile oil and one can use them as a light pillow spray or in a diffuser to help you to relax and sleep at night. It is advisable to consult a registered and qualified aromatherapist who's trained in treating mums-to-be, before.

Shorter Naps

It is great to squeeze in a nap or two during the day whenever you can, however, napping for more than 30 minutes can you rob you off the sleep of your nights. Any naps which last longer than 30 minutes, your body enters the stage of deep sleep, making it harder for you to wake up and making it harder for you to fall asleep at night. However, you can still have a couple of 30 mins naps to combat your fatigue.

Keep it Cool

You might notice that you are feeling hot at all times, as your body heat increases during pregnancy. Putt your room temperature at a few degrees lower than normal so that you don't feel stuffy and have the ideal sleeping temperature. This might prevent all the tossing and turning and can help you finally sleep like a baby.

Lights Off

Brightness makes you want to be up and running, so having a light on while sleeping does not help your sleeping situation at all. Artificial light can disturb natural sleep and inhibit the production of the hormone melatonin, which can mess with your sleep cycle. Keep your curtains drawn and phones and laptops away if you want a good night's sleep.

Sleepless nights is a part and package of the whole new-mom deal, but it is most likely that you didn't expect them to begin before your baby was born. It might be a good idea to take consent from your obstetrician-gynecologist beforehand, however, making these little shifts in your daily habits can help you in beating those sleepless nights. Not all of the measures might work for you, so feel free to pick and choose and try different things and listen to your body more often to pick up the right cues.