Sleeping during pregnancy is just difficult. Some women might sleep well enough for most of the pregnancy, but it’s highly likely that during one or more of the trimesters you will be suffering from difficulty sleeping.
There can be a lot of challenges to getting a healthy night’s sleep while you’re pregnant, but there is a lot of advice for you as well. No matter what you’re facing, there is a woman who has faced that before you and has some advice to offer you about how to sleep well. What I have done is compiled all of the best advice about sleeping during pregnancy and I am going to share it with you now.
Do You Need to Adjust Your Sleep During Different Trimesters?
Usually you will have to adjust at least your sleeping position during each trimester. As your baby grows, your body will be changing rapidly and going through a lot of phases. You may feel great during some weeks and absolutely awful during others, depending on what’s going on with your body chemistry.
In the first trimester you won’t be dealing with back issues as much, but you will most likely have some problems with tenderness (especially with your breasts), nausea, aching joints, and more frequent bathroom trips. You can combat these things by sleeping on your back or side, using as many pillows as you need to be fully comfortable, keeping some crackers or similar foods near your bed for nausea, and not drinking water 2 hours before bedtime.
The second trimmest brings on new challenges that might replace the first trimester’s problems. Among these are heartburn, muscle cramps and soreness, back pain, and vivid or realistic nightmares. Heartburn (sometimes called GERD) can be the worst issue for you, because it’s very uncomfortable and you won’t be able to sleep well with it. To fight heartburn, you should prop yourself up while sleeping, allow at least four hours for digestion after dinner, eat non-acidic foods, and eat lighter meals at night.
For soreness and back pain, you may have to adjust your sleeping position and use more pillows for support. Body pillows are an excellent purchase in this stage to help relieve your joints, legs, and low back. Unfortunately, the realistic nightmares you may experience don’t have a true cure. You may just have to endure these and try your best to get back to sleep after they happen.
Lastly during the third trimester, most of your challenges are what you’ve felt previously, except much more intense. Your back pain will increase as your womb puts pressure on your spine and hips, you may have to use the bathroom a lot more, your legs might feel restless and achy, and you might have some difficulty breathing.
Support is the key during your third trimester. With proper support you can help to improve your breathing, get your legs to feel better, and relieve pressure and pain from your back. Beyond the need for support, you should also consider limiting your water and liquid intake in the evening to help avoid unnecessary bathroom trips. Sometimes like exercise like walking in the evening can help to calm your legs and also relieve some of the stress on your back.
How Much Sleep Should You Be Getting While Pregnant?
It’s recommended that you get as much sleep as possible while you’re pregnant. This should include around 7 hours total each night and 1 or 2 short naps during the day if you can manage it. There are studies which have suggested that women who sleep at least 7 hours most nights during their third trimester will have shorter labor, while women who get fewer than 7 hours of sleep every night are likely to have longer labor.
This is just a guideline, of course, but it is a good suggestion for you to get as much sleep as you can during this tiring time for your body. More than likely you will feel tired most of the time anyway, because your body is stealing most of your nutrients and energy to give to the growing baby. Even if you can’t always sleep in the afternoons, try to take some time to just lie down and relax a bit.
How to Position Yourself Comfortably for Sleep
Most women have issues with how they should be sleeping while pregnant. Your body is going crazy and changing in so many different ways, so the best thing to do is to look for a bit of help. Sleeping on your side is highly recommended, but that alone won’t give you the support and comfort you need to sleep well. I would suggest getting a pregnancy body pillow during your first or second trimester.
Body pillows are a fantastic investment for you, because they help with all of the pressure points. You can tuck part of the pillow between your knees to help your hips, part of it under you belly for support, and part under you head as a regular pillow. If you get a U-shaped maternity body pillow, you can even get back support from it as well as all the other types of support. This is going to make sleeping so much more comfortable for you that it’s absolutely recommended!
What to Do if You Can’t Fall Asleep
If you just can’t fall asleep no matter what you do, then get up. It’s worse to lie in bed and stare at the ceiling or feel restless than it is to get up and do something small around the house. Don’t do anything too stimulating that will wake you up fully, but try to stick to small activities which will make you bored or tired.
Do simple puzzle games, read something on paper (not on a bright screen!), fold laundry, walk around the house a few times, etc. These are all small things you can do that might help to alleviate restlessness while also helping you fall asleep more easily.
Stay away from bright screens if you can’t sleep at night. These are going to make you feel even more awake. The bright light from a computer, tablet, mobile, or TV screen can make your eyes think that it is daytime, which will in turn make your mind think you should be awake, not asleep. As a good rule of thumb, don’t use anything with a screen right before bed and never pick one up if you’re already having trouble sleeping.
What Can Ruin Sleep During Pregnancy?
Many different things can negatively affect your ability to sleep while you’re pregnant. Here are a few of the main culprits that you can avoid:
- Your room is too hot
- You napped for too long during the day
- You used a bright screen right before trying to sleep
- You are constantly using your bed for work or other stressful things
- The room is not dark enough
- You are uncomfortable
- You are stressed
- You have heartburn from poor eating habits
All of these are avoidable issues. Even discomfort and stress can be avoided to a large extent with proper habits and supplies. Form those good habits before these issues keep you from getting any real rest during your pregnancy!
If any of these things apply to you, then it’s time to take the steps to fix them. Do it now or write it down so that you won’t forget. This could make the difference between a happy pregnancy or a tired, groggy pregnancy.
Sleep is essential to your health. While you’re pregnant, you will need more sleep than usual. If you’re having any trouble sleeping or you need some advice on what to do to sleep better, then I hope this information has helped you answer your questions.
What do you think of these pieces of advice? Is there anything you would like to add or suggest? I’d love to hear what you have to say in the comments below!