Pregnancy is a special time in many ways, but during these nine months, your sleep routine may be far from ideal and it can be difficult to get an undisturbed night’s sleep. From a growing bump to aches and pains and heartburn, not to mention needing the loo more often - a lot of women experience many sleepless and uncomfortable nights whilst pregnant. So, we’ve created this guide to help you understand how pregnancy affects sleep and what you can do to get a comfortable and restful night.
how does pregnancy affect sleep?
Pregnancy affects sleep in a range of ways and a lot of women experience insomnia during all stages of being pregnant, but tends to be more common in the first and third trimesters. Getting enough quality shut-eye is vital for you and your developing baby and a lack of sleep is not just an inconvenience, it may lead to a higher risk of pregnancy complications such as high blood pressure, gestational diabetes and longer labours.
Midnight bathroom breaks, increased heart rate, restless leg syndrome, shortness of breath and leg cramps, can all wreak havoc on your sleep, and especially near the end of pregnancy, many women find it difficult to just simply get comfortable enough so they can sleep well. Leg cramps during the night are caused by changes in your body’s ability to process calcium, and along with restless leg syndrome - a condition where you have strong urges to move your legs - are both common pregnancy issues. To help prevent your legs from keeping you awake throughout the night, you can perform gentle leg stretches before bed, make sure to get plenty of daytime exercise and eat a diet rich in calcium. Talk to your doctor about any symptoms to catch any vitamin & mineral deficiencies early as iron deficiency is common in pregnancy and has been linked to restless leg syndrome.
It’s not just physical symptoms that can affect your sleep in pregnancy, feeling stressed and anxious about giving birth or worrying about how you’ll balance work with being a new mum can keep you awake at night. Furthermore, nightmares and highly realistic dreams are common in pregnancy too and can mimic the real-life fears that you may have as your pregnancy progresses.
To help you cope with nighttime worries, you can try calming practices such as breathing exercises, meditation and journaling. It’s also worth seeking outside help as many women are going through the same experience as you, so even just talking to other people about your worries and concerns really can go a long way to making you feel that bit better and less stressed about things.
which sleep position is best during pregnancy?
Finding a comfortable sleep position can be a challenge with a growing bump and you may wonder if there’s a best way to sleep that’s also safe too. The most comfortable and safest sleeping position is on your side with your knees bent, this is because it prevents the baby from putting pressure on the large vein that carries blood back to the heart from your legs. Experts have traditionally said that laying on your left side when pregnant is the best sleep position, as this is thought to protect the liver and increase blood flow to the heart, kidneys, foetus and uterus.
Experts also say to avoid sleeping on your back during the second and third trimesters, as this position means the entire weight of the growing uterus and baby rests on your back, intestines and vena cava - the main vein that carries blood back to the heart from your lower body. If you do find that you wake up laying on your back, there’s no need to panic, but if you are more likely to sleep in this position, you can wedge a pillow behind you when you go to bed. This way if you do roll back you will at least be tilted and lessening the effect of sleeping on your back.
tips for a better night’s sleep during pregnancy
One of the best things that you can do to ensure a better night’s sleep during pregnancy is to have a good sleep routine and to keep your bedroom dark, quiet and cool. Going to bed at the same time each night and making sure to begin your routine with something that will help you feel calm and relaxed can make all the difference.
Some tips to help you get a good night’s sleep include getting plenty of fresh air and doing moderate exercise, as long as you feel comfortable doing so, will help you feel more rested at night. You can also practise relaxation techniques such as yoga before going to bed, which may help with fewer awakenings and can help to reduce anxiety too. Reducing your caffeine intake, especially later in the day, and avoiding heavy meals, which can worsen heartburn, all aid with a better night’s sleep. To ensure complete comfort, you can use a pregnancy pillow, such as the Silentnight Body Support Pillow, to help support your bump or legs. Plus, it’s also a good idea to wear light clothing so you don’t get too hot.
If you do have concerns about your sleep during pregnancy, no matter how small, don’t hesitate to seek advice from your doctor. Making sure to stay healthy in pregnancy is important, after all good health begins with a good night’s sleep.