Sleep during pregnancy is not always easy, however, like food it is one of the necessities for survival. Without it the human body fails to function properly resulting in both physical and mental fatigue.
There is a direct relationship between lack of sleep, poor immune function and depression. This is because when we sleep our body restores itself by repairing damage, de-stresses and fights off disease.
Broken sleep patterns do not allow time for the recovery process to take place, thus resulting in an unhealthy body.
Researchers have concluded that there is also a direct link between poor quality of sleep and complications during birth. Women who have less than 6 hours of sleep a night have a higher risk of a long labor, giving birth to a baby who is premature and or a baby with a low birth weight.
Why do pregnant women find it harder to sleep?
Sleep during pregnancy is not of the same quality. A woman will sleep less deeply and may find her self being awoken through the night.
Factors that affect a pregnant woman’s sleep patterns are:
- Hormonal changes in the body
- Rise in body temperature
- Respiratory conditions
- Back pain
- Needing to use the toilet often
- Anxiety and or stress
- Growing belly that’s obstructive, heavy and moves in the night
- Change in sleeping position
- Change in body shape and composition
How can I maximize my chances of getting a better night sleep?
Not all of the above factors can be avoided, as they are simply a part of the pregnancy process. However, some conditions can be addressed and helped along the way.
1. Wearing special pregnancy leggings during the day, can help to alleviate cramping and leg pain. They can also help to avoid swollen limbs and water retention in areas such as the ankles.
2. Pregnancy Shorts are also useful to wear to bed. They provide the necessary support to minimize the effects of pelvic pain during sleep.
3. Belly support belts can also be used to help support the growing belly, while helping to eliminate back pain. A belly belt is particularly useful for women who are carrying a large bump.
4. Using pillows to sleep with can aid in a more comfortable sleep taking pressure of joints and muscles. The pillows will help to relieve any pressure you may experience whilst sleeping. Pillows placed between the legs, behind the back and under your head are helpful. Play around with them and find a combination that works for you.
5. Avoid drinking at least 1 hour before bedtime. This allows time for you to empty your bladder before going to bed. A woman’s bladder will hold less fluid when she is pregnant. Keep hydrated and drink plenty of water during the day. After 4pm reduce the amount of fluid intake. This will help to avoid numerous trips to the restroom during the night.
6. Avoid drinking Coffee and or Tea before bed. Both Coffee and Tea contain caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant and may cause a disturbed sleep.
7. Avoid sugary treats too close to bedtime, as they can cause an over active mind.
8. Avoid eating to close to bedtime. Eat your evening meal at a reasonable time to allow plenty of time to digest your food. This will help to avoid complaints such as heartburn.
9. Avoid sleeping too much in the day. This can affect the quality of your sleep at night.
10. Do engage in exercise and keep active in your day. An active pregnancy is less likely to meet with complications. Participate in light exercise daily.This way you will feel tied when it is time to sleep. Keeping active will help to promote a great sleep.
11. Engage in a calming activity before bedtime to help rest the mind and wind down from your busy day.
12. Write your to-do list for tomorrow before you go to bed. This way your mind is free to shut down.
13. Wear a comfortable sleepwear. Invest in some comfortable PJ’s that are non restrictive and keep you cool at night.
During pregnancy a women’s body is more sensitive. Synthetic fabrics can cause the body to overheat and can irritate the skin resulting in sleepless nights.
Choose sleepwear garments that not only fit well but also are non-restrictive and feel nice against the skin. Soft natural, fabrics will keep you cool allowing your skin to breath and help provide for a restful night’s sleep.
14. Wear a sleep bra. Pregnancy not only brings about a change in a woman’s body size but it can bring a significant increase in her breast size. Your breasts will often be tender, swollen and heavy. That’s why a lot of women will choose to sleep in their bra in the later stages of their pregnancy or post birth.
Should you decided to sleep in a bra, wearing a supportive maternity sleep bras is a great idea throughout your pregnancy and beyond. We recommend wearing a sleep bra that has plenty of stretch to allow for your changing shape. Ideally it should be made from a natural fabric such as cotton or bamboo to allow the skin to breath. A non-wired option is better suited as it will provide comfort with out restriction.
15. It is recommended to sleep on your side to help prevent loss of blood flow and oxygen to your baby. If sleeping on your side is uncomfortable for you, use pillows as support or an especially designed pregnancy pillow.
16. Sleep in a well-ventilated room to avoid overheating. Keep the bedroom cool and avoid hot stuffy rooms. Your body temperature will generally rise during pregnancy, so it’s easier to overheat.
17. Establish a bedtime routine. Find a routine that works for you around bedtime and go to bed early. Just like babies and children, adults will benefit from a good sleeping routine and a consistent bedtime.
Getting a good night sleep will leave you feeling energized, happy and alert. It will also help aid in the labor process and growing a healthy full term baby.
Sleep is essential to help maintain good health during pregnancy. We understand just how important sleep is. We hope these tips will help you sleep soundly throughout your pregnancy.