Having a good sleep is a key component for a healthy body and mind, since a good rest will prepare you physically and psychologically for your next day. However, a good night sleep is not usually an easy task during pregnancy. With all the changes in your body during this blessed yet challenging period, it is common that your sleep gets affected not only in its quality but also in regards to the amount of hours.
Sleeping the right amount of hours during pregnancy can greatly influence the amount of time you will spend later during labour, according to studies from the University of California. They suggest that women who received more than 7 hours of sleep averaged about 17 hours of labor, while those who slept 6 hours or less went through more than 28 hours of labour and in some cases, increased their chances of having a C-section.
So what conditions disturb your sleep during pregnancy?
Well this can vary since each body and lifestyle is different and so these may happen in different stages of pregnancy; heartburn, leg cramps, snoring, shortness of breath, nocturnal baby kicking, diverse aches, increased trips to the loo, worries about your baby and parenthood, among others. The third trimester tends to be the most difficult in terms of good sleep.
However, some of this conditions can greatly improve by following good sleeping habits during pregnancy.
Try to regulate your sleep and wake cycles by going to bed and waking up at regular times every day. Power naps can also help reduce your fatigue levels, make you more alert and sharpen your memory. As long as you don't take them too late during the day or last more than 60 minutes, they should help you during the day and not interfere with your night sleep.
2. Position & Pillow
These are crucial. An adequate position and a proper pregnancy pillow can work magic for your rest. You should sleep on your side, which will reduce any problems with back pain. Even better if you lie down on your left side, since this will increase the amount of nutrients and blood flowing to the placenta and thus your baby, and also improve your waste fluid elimination process. Avoid sleeping on your back or stomach.
Doing this since the early stages of pregnancy, will not only get you accustomed to the position, but will help you in later stages when your belly is bigger. A proper cushion will help you with both your comfort level and keeping the recommended positions. A U-Shaped Pregnancy Pillow that wraps your body and gives you cushion between your legs, is the smart choice.
3. Eating & drinking
Apart from a healthy diet as recommended by your doctor, you should pay attention to your evening meals. Have a sensible dinner, which means no fasting, no spicy or acidic food and no excess liquid. This will help you reduce heartburn and late-night trips to the bathroom.
A snack before bedtime can be a good idea to reduce nauseas caused by an empty stomach, as long as it is a bland and simple snack. Stick your coffee to the morning and keep it to a minimum. From afternoon onwards, caffeine should be avoided. As for alcohol and cigarette, quitting on those is a must during the whole pregnancy to ensure the proper development of your baby.
A moderate exercise routine which can be a 30-minute walk workout, can help you sleep deeper during the night. This should be done more than four hours before bedtime though. If done later, the tiring can affect your sleep.
5. Before-bed routines
Having a bath or reading a book can help you get into relaxation mode before bedtime arrives. Done frequently, this can help later by accustoming your body, by saying "hey, bedtime is approaching, time to sleep". Relaxation techniques are a good option too. Deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation by tensing and relaxing your body by group muscle is worth a try. And when time to sleep arrives, make sure your room is dark, cool and quiet.
Do your concerns about your baby and parenthood come to visit the moment you close your eyes?
Consider enrolling at an antenatal class. Knowing what to expect can help you in putting your mind at ease.
Still can't sleep some nights? Try listening to soothing music, reading a magazine, changing to another room. Avoid sleeping pills, even if they are over-the-counter ones. Remember, interrupted sleep is a normal condition for a pregnant woman, so don't worry too much.
It may take some time, but you will eventually find the routine that suits you best to improve your sleep. So eat well, exercise, take a nap, watch your evening habits, make your room a sanctuary, leave your worries outside the door, grab and wrap yourself in your nice and comfy pregnancy pillow, relax, and good night.