It’s no secret that struggling to catch nightly shut-eye is part of the new-mom deal. But who could have guessed that catching ZZZs throughout pregnancy would also present itself with its trials and tribulations!
Hormonal changes bring on serious fatigue in your first and third trimester, but that doesn’t guarantee peaceful sleeps through the night. What with the 3am, and 4am… (and 5am…) bathroom runs, the aches and pains of nocturnal baby kicks, drive-you-crazy leg cramps, and just being so dang uncomfortable – it can be tough to grab some good sleep.
Restful sleep may not be as easy as 1-2-3 during pregnancy, but we promise there is hope! We’ve compiled a list of our best 5 tips that will help you get some well-earned rest before your little one arrives.
5 Tips for Better Sleep during Pregnancy
1. Pillows will be your new best friend! Sorry partner, you’ll have to move over. You might be lucky enough to cruise through your first and second trimester without one, but by the third, you’ll definitely need a good body pillow. There are definitely worth the investment as they’ll support your bump and keep your knees parallel to each other – preventing pesky back pain. A good body pillow is the base for a good night’s sleep – the sooner you get one the better!
Bonus tip: Do a little research before you hit checkout. If you’re prone to heartburn, make sure you look for pillows that help keep your upper body at a slight incline. But whichever you go for, make sure it properly supports your neck – you don’t want to wake up with unwanted and painful stiffness. We highly recommend this one.
2. Get your sweat on! Regular daytime exercise can help you fall asleep more quickly at night, and stay asleep longer! Sounds so good, right? Nighttime workouts are OK as long as you’re not going to bed for another 2 hours or so. Generally, even if you’re physically tired after a workout, exercise gives our brains an energy boost that lasts for 1-3 hours after you finish, which can make it harder to fall asleep. Keep in mind that with prenatal exercise you don’t want work yourself to a fatigue, and a great way to do that is by 1) listening to your body and 2) using the talk test during workouts. The talk test just means you can carry on a regular conversation while working out.
3. Make sure your dinner time habits support sleep. Even with those cravings in full swing and increased water needs, you’ll want to keep your meals (and liquids) on the lighter side the closer you get to bedtime. For one, it will help reduce the intensity and occurence of heartburn, and will limit those nightly runs to the loo. It’s also a good idea to limit spicy and acidic foods at night as they’re top triggers for heartburn. If you’re dealing with nighttime nausea, a few dry whole-grain crackers before bed are believed to starve off night time nausea. When it comes to water, try to have your last full glass about an hour before going to bed so you’ll be less disrupted by trips to the loo in the middle of the night.
Bonus tip: Magnesium is an essential mineral that helps with so many pregnancy symptoms – sleep included! Many women find magnesium supplements helpful come nighttime, but you’ll definitely want to talk to your doc before taking any supplements yourself. Of course you can also get magnesium through your food, particularly: swiss chard, spinach, pumpkin seeds, almonds, and dark chocolate (don’t mind if I do!).
4. Become queen of the power naps. Depending on your work situation and what your day looks like, you may or may not be prone to power naps. If you are able to catch some midday rest – we say embrace it. But if you do take power naps, there is a trick to doing them right. Power naps are most successful when kept to under 20 minutes, as it allows our brain time to rest without going into a full REM cycle. Naps can be counterproductive when you wake up in the middle of cycle (usually from 30 minutes to 1.5 hours in) because you just end up groggier – and probably crankier – than you were before the nap. So, if you’re wanting to crank out some midday sleep that’s over 30 minutes, you’re better off setting your alarm for 90 minutes after you plan to fall asleep. Ultimately, you want your body on a healthy circadian rhythm which is established with regular sleep cycles – so good nighttime sleep is always the best bet. But don’t knock the naps if you need them!
5. Get the positioning right. The key to a blissful night’s sleep during pregnancy is to sleep on your side, and by week 20 it’s recommended that you sleep in this position as often as possible. Research shows that the left side is your best bet because it maximizes blood flow to the fetus, uterus, and kidneys. If you pair that epic body pillow we were talking about in the first tip and snuggle up on your left side, you’ll be in for the sweetest snooze.
That’s a wrap! We hope these tips will go a long way in giving you the stress-free sleep you deserve; at a time you need it the most. With the weather heating up and hot flushes in pregnancy making also tough to sleep through the night, make sure to check out our top tips for sleeping in the heat.