A good night’s sleep and pregnancy might seem to be steadfast enemies. From frequent bathroom trips to any time nausea, back pains and heartburn, there sure is a lot to contend with when you’re trying to get some quality pregnancy shut eye. Luckily, there are ways to soften that effect and make sure you’re getting healthy, restful sleep.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, around 78 percent of women reported having regular sleep disturbances during pregnancy. Amidst the beauty of bringing life into this world, there’s a lot of stress to go through. With this new life comes a rise in progesterone, the hormone that regulates women’s reproductive cycles. Progesterone makes you drowsy all day early in the pregnancy, causing fatigue and discomfort. And, while your total sleep time increases, the quality of pregnancy sleep is poor with constant interruptions.
So how do you make sure that when you do sleep you’re not only doing it healthily for yourself but also healthily for the baby? Just remember SOS, which stands for Sleep on Side. During the first trimester it’s possible to sleep on your stomach and other positions, but for the healthiest sleep, you’ll want to switch (if you don’t sleep this way already) to sleeping on your left side as it increases the amount of blood and nutrients that reach the placenta and baby. You’ll also want to keep your legs and knees bent and place a medium thickness pillow between your legs to support your hips.
There are many ways to support yourself in this position simply using pillows, and some also come with beneficial effects. For back pain, while side sleeping place a pillow under your abdomen to take strain off and support your spine. A gusset pillow is ideal for side sleepers (try the Classic Gusset Down Pillow). For heartburn you may experience during pregnancy, use a a couple of pillows to slightly elevate your upper body. You can also place a body pillow behind you, along your back to help add support for your spine and alleviate any back pains you may be having. Sleeping this way should, especially during the second and third trimesters, provide you with the most comfort and hopefully, get you the most restful sleep in the healthiest way.
There are other dos and don’ts of pregnancy sleep to help you out as well. Because of the inhibitory effects of progesterone, you’ll notice you’ll have to take frequent bathroom breaks. To ensure this doesn’t happen as often through the night, rather than cutting off fluid intake, try to drink more during the day and less before bed time. Also, cut off diuretics like coffee, tea, and soft drinks. Because progesterone also relaxes the smooth muscles of your stomach lining, this allows stomach acid to flow up into the esophagus causing indigestion and heartburn. To avoid this, you should invest in enough pillows to elevate your upper body while lying in bed. Also, before sleep make sure you give yourself proper time to digest, make sure to eat slowly and keep track of any problem foods. Taking time to relax, meditate, listen to a guided meditation or do breathing meditations before going to bed can help you start catching z’s quickly and deeply.
Pregnancy is an important journey and sleep is important for both you and your baby, so following these tips can help get as much needed rest as possible.