Sleep is so important. Not only is it how we spend over one-third of our lives, but it’s also the time that our body uses to refresh and recharge, where our mind resets itself, and when all of our body’s processes and systems prepare for the next day’s work.
When you’re pregnant, your body is working double time, during the day, and at night— because all of the systems have to reset for two people, and one of those people is growing in leaps and bounds every single day! Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the most important things you can do for not just yourself and your own health and comfort, but for your growing and developing baby.
Unfortunately, it can be tough to sleep like a baby when you’re carrying one— so here are a few of my best tips for ways to get amazing sleep while you’re pregnant.
- Go Shopping
I figured I’d start this off with the most fun tip — Go shopping! There are a few things you need that are vital to a good night’s sleep, like maternity bands, body pillows, and comfortable (and correct) maternity sleepwear. Often times women wear their regular sleepwear into the third trimester and even though many pajamas have elastic, they weren’t designed to be worn by someone four times as big as you were before. It’s impossible to sleep with something pressing into your waistband area, so do yourself a favor and buy three or four really nice pairs of pregnancy pajamas.
Maternity Bands are relatively inexpensive and can go a long way towards reducing the stress on your body throughout the day. They alleviate pain and discomfort, which leads to less muscle strain, and less tossing and turning at night, after you remove the maternity band to sleep.
The Sleep Advisor suggests buying a pregnancy body pillow because they can be extremely comfortable either in front or behind you (kind of in a spooning position). Other women find that if you place the pillow in between your knees while you’re on your side, it alleviates pressure on your back, spine, and sciatic nerve. The pillow will ultimately prevent you from sleeping on your stomach, which can be dangerous for you and baby, and puts you in places that are more comfortable and safer, like on your left hand side.
- Adjust Your Diet
You already know that you should avoid alcohol and limit caffeine, because, well, you’re pregnant, but if you’re the kind of gal who’s allowing herself one cup of coffee or a glass of red wine a day you should not do it right before bed. Both can keep you awake or wake you up at all hours of the night.
You should also avoid eating spicy foods, acidic foods, or any meal that’s too large right before bed— your body will be trying to digest all night, and not only that— but it may cause heartburn and indigestion, even more so than what you had before. If you have to snack before bed, you can try a glass of milk, some yogurt, or another small healthy snack, preferably something with tryptophan like turkey or almonds. You should always consult with your doctor to double-check which foods are safe during your pregnancy.
- Adjust your Bedtime Habits & Stick to a Routine
Baby has changed a lot of things about your lifestyle, but she shouldn’t completely tear apart your bedtime routine. It’s equally as important that you’re comfortable, after all. If you normally went to bed at 9pm, you should keep to the same schedule. If you’re used to taking a bath or shower before bed, you should not let baby stop you.
The more you change your routine the harder it’s going to be for your body to know that it’s time to doze off. Yoga and Meditation have been proven to help mothers fall asleep faster, by visualizing a happy and healthy baby, a wonderful delivery, a beautiful beach, or meditating about anything else that makes you happy as you’re lying in bed. You can also tense each muscle one at a time and relax it, all the way up and down your body until you fall asleep.
- Limit Stress Before Bed
Limiting stress is not an easy task, I know— but it’s necessary, especially before bed. Stop thinking about bills (you might have pregnancy brain), work, or anything else that makes you feel nervous. Turn off the local news and the depressing drama movie and opt instead for a light hearted and refreshing comedy. Better yet, turn off the TV and avoid anything electronic with a light source that may wake up your brain and keep you from falling to sleep at a decent hour.
- Adjust Positions
It’s hard enough to get to sleep, but when baby is added into the equation, your tossing and turning grows exponentially. If you can, try sleeping on the left side, as that increases blood supply and nutrients to the baby.
You also need to avoid laying on your back late in your pregnancy, because the weight of the baby can strain your vena cava and reduce the blood flow to your own heart (and therefore to baby as well). If you need to, experiment with different (safe) positions until you find the one that works best for you, and don’t forget to use that body pillow to help stabilize your body in a comfortable position.
- Adjust Locations
In addition to adjusting positions, adjusting location works wonders as well. You may find throughout your pregnancy that a harder or softer mattress is more beneficial, so you can move around the house trying the different beds out. You can sleep on a couch or futon, or even a relative’s home if your mother has a more comfortable setup, for example.
You could even try the floor, or an airbed — most women prefer to sleep in recliners with their feet up from about the third trimester onward.
The bottom line is to do whatever feels best for you. The people in your family who love you should try to accommodate your desire to sleep in a location that makes you feel the most comfortable.