How to sleep during pregnancy
You’re embarking on one of the greatest journeys known to mankind - you’re having a baby! Congratulations!
You’re excited, you’re nervous... and you’re seriously struggling to sleep with your baby bump. Meanwhile, your friends are telling you to get as much sleep as you can before the baby arrives.
What your friends may not know is that getting to sleep when pregnant can be exceptionally difficult. According to the National Sleep Foundation, up to 78% of women report sleep problems during pregnancy compared to other times in their lives.
Common problems with sleeping during pregnancy include frequent trips to the bathroom, Restless Leg Syndrome, heartburn, and anxiety. So with all that going on, how are you supposed to get a decent night's sleep?
Exercise for better sleep
You might not feel your most flexible, but try to incorporate exercise into your day-to-day routine. This can help you feel tired at night (and it’s good for you and the baby, too):
- Keep it light - the key is not to exhaust yourself.
- If you can manage it, aim for a half an hour walk every day.
- If you feel a little more able, try booking yourself into a local prenatal yoga, barre core or aquanatal class.
Women undertaking exercise during pregnancy have seen increased stamina in the labour process (stronger abs and a healthy cardiovascular system will help you here) as well as decreased back pain, a cleaner intestinal tract and better moods throughout the nine months. Make sure you always discuss your exercise with your maternity team and be sure to keep your fluids high.
Build sleep food into your supper
Your body is a lot more sensitive than it used to be, which means that old favourites like curry could irritate your stomach and cause heartburn, two things that can keep you awake when you’re pregnant. Instead opt for sleep-inducing foods and recipes containing that wonderful, sleep promoting amino acid Tryptophan. High tryptophan foods include:
- Red meat
- Fish (mackerel is especially good)
If you’re a fan of hot drinks at night, try a calming mug of chamomile tea too.
Remember to ensure all foods are properly prepared and cooked and try to avoid eating two to three hours before you go to sleep to lessen the chances of late night heartburn and indigestion. If you’re hungry by bedtime, try having a light snack such as homemade popcorn or whole wheat toast with peanut butter to keep you going until morning.
Nail your pregnancy pre-sleep routine
During pregnancy sleep hygiene is more important than ever. To help you unwind before bed, try taking a warm bath. Warm water is incredible for unknotting those kinks, soothing those aches and relaxing you.
- If you’re someone who likes their water almost scalding, turn down the heat. 39 degrees celsius is the maximum temperature recommended for pregnant women.
- After your first trimester you can start to be a little more adventurous and invest in some prenatal approved aromatherapy oils such as bergamot, frankincense or German chamomile. (Be aware that essential oils are highly concentrated thus it is best to only use small amounts. Your doctor should be able to give you recommendations on this.)
- For a more hands-on approach, get a family member or a friend to give you a massage. Go for an organic oil - possibly with a base of Litsea cubeba or grapefruit which have excellent anti-inflammatory and calming properties.
Try to feng shui your bedroom
The basis of feng shui at home is this: your home is a mirror of what’s happening inside you. Thus your goal when applying feng shui to your bedroom is to harmonise your own energy with that of your home.
You might not be a follower of feng shui as such, but it’s true that a calm bedroom environment can help you sleep. This is especially important when you’re trying to sleep during your pregnancy, when you may feel a little more anxious than usual.
- Start by removing all clutter from your room and throw out everything that’s broken, even those items you’re hoarding in your closet that you don’t need.
- Remove electrical equipment you can from your bedroom. If you have a TV, put it in another room unless you really can’t live without it, in which case make sure that it’s as far away from your bed as possible.
- Your bed should feel balanced and supportive. Make sure you’ve invested in a high quality mattress - if your current one is old with lumps and bumps it won’t promote the healthy sleep you need. It will turn your sanctuary into a nightmare of aches and pains.
- It is good to have certain sleep promoting plants in your bedroom, such as jasmine, lavender or peace lily, but limit these if you’re a believer in feng shui, as too many plants is too much yang i.e. too much energy in the room! Otherwise, check out our guide to the best bedroom plants here.
The best sleeping position during pregnancy
The NHS has some in-depth advice on sleeping with your baby bump. In a nutshell:
- The best sleeping position to adopt is on your side with your knees bent.
- You can then tuck pillows between your legs and behind your back for maximum support.
- If you’re used to sleeping on your stomach or back, it’s recommended that you try to change your position preference early on. Sleeping on your stomach will become impossible and sleeping on your back will result in pressure on your spine, back muscles and blood vessels from your uterus.
- You could also try investing in pregnancy pillows. Single or double wedges support your tummy and can help to ease back pain and a full-length body pillow can be adjusted around you as you like it.
To everyone commencing on this incredible life journey, congratulations and much love from all at Simba Sleep!