Wondering how to get sleep during pregnancy? Here are 3 tips from sleep expert Sarah Cummings.
Being pregnant is hard enough. There’s the changes your body goes through, for one, and the back pain, heartburn and cramps that go with it. The emotional rollercoaster that your hormones send you whizzing along every five minutes, for another. Not to mention the ever-present fear that you’re about to bring a HUMAN BEING into the world… and that’s just the start of it!
It’s enough to wear anyone out. But of course, no matter how exhausted we are, no matter how ready we think we are for an express ticket to Snoozieland… we can’t get to sleep.
Restless leg syndrome prevents us from falling asleep without kicking ourselves awake. Random cravings for avocado and sweet chilli sauce plague us in the middle of the night. The sheer heat and weight of the bump and all that gas inside (gross, but true) is making us more uncomfortable by the second. Doesn’t exactly sound like a prelude to sleep, does it?!
Fear not, a great night’s sleep is not beyond your grasp; even if you are heavily pregnant. Try these quick tips and get the proper kip you deserve…
Create an evening routine
You’re probably spending so much time worrying about the well-being of your future child that you neglect your own. So, make sure to create some ‘you time’ every evening. Start by setting a bedtime that gets you at least 7 hours’ sleep, depending on when you wake up – and stick to this bedtime every night if you can; continuity is key!
Around an hour before this bedtime, turn off any devices that emit blue light – these include your TV, laptop and phone – as they block the production of melatonin, which we rely on to keep us relaxed. They also stimulate the mind rather than calming it down; not the most helpful when it’s already racing with baby plans!
Instead, use this hour to have a nice bath, read a book, do some prenatal yoga or breathing exercises… whatever it takes to calm down your body and mind. Repeat at the same time, every night, and your body will start shutting down with less resistance.
Watch what you eat
I’m sure that you’re doing everything you can to ensure baby gets enough nutrition, but are you eating the right foods for your own sleep? There are actually lots of sleep-promoting foods out there – and, since they form the basis of many a tasty evening snack, you can combat your cravings and get better sleep while you’re at it. Bonus!
For instance, almonds contain magnesium, which helps the body to produce serotonin (also known as the “happy hormone”). This induces a state of calmness and relaxation when we need it most. Bananas also contain magnesium, and potassium too – this acts as a natural muscle relaxant so hello, calm mind and body!
Sometimes I’ll snack on whole-grain toast with almond butter and banana before bedtime (yum!) Or I’ll appease my inner child and enjoy some homemade ice-cream by blending 2 frozen bananas together with ½ a cup of almond milk, sometimes throwing in a tsp of cacao powder for a chocolatey hit. It’s pretty much guilt-free; a healthy snack that helps me sleep!
Change your position
So, you know how to prepare your body for an easier labour. You’ve gotten the ball, you’re doing the stretches and you’re the teacher’s pet in your Lamaze class. And, now you can even do your baby some good while you sleep. Yay!
How to get sleep during pregnancy
The American Pregnancy Association recommends sleeping on your side (SOS) as the optimal pregnancy position; better yet, your left side as it increases the flow of blood and nutrients reaching the placenta and your baby.
They also suggest bending your knees towards your chest (well, as much as your bump will allow!) and placing a pillow between your legs. Another pillow under your abdomen can ease back pain, and heartburn can be tackled by propping up your upper body with pillows.
That’s right, the humble pillow is about to become your new best friend. Your partner is just going to have to deal with you hogging all of them.
By making a few simple changes like this, whether it’s the position in which you sleep or the type of pillow on which you’ve come to depend, you can improve your sleep. Big time. And if you need more tips – on pillows, on pregnancy sleep and everything in between – check out the articles on The Sleep Advisor.
Your sleep patterns may not change overnight. And you may still find yourself well, well, short of those recommended 7–9 hours for a while. But give it time, stick to your routine, try those foods and that new position, and you’ll start to sleep more soundly as a result.
Meaning you’ll be a more well-rested, happier Mom when the big day comes!