Inside: Struggling to sleep during pregnancy? Learn the 7 sleep tricks I used to kick difficulty sleeping while pregnant to the curb.
Sleep during pregnancy is no joke. You either get it, or you don’t.
You may have some days where you could literally sleep for 24 hours straight no problem… and then other days where it takes you that long to fall asleep because you just can’t get comfortable.
And then when you do finally get comfy, you have to pee.
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>> need a quick fix? Thousands of moms-to-be recommend this particular pillow to help get more sleep during pregnancy.
As a newly-pregnant mama, it’s normal to have countless questions and concerns swirling through your mind –
- Am I getting enough sleep during pregnancy?
- How much sleep is TOO much? (Or, is there such a thing?)
- Which positions are safe to sleep in? (I’m a belly sleeper. Am I squishing my baby?)
- How do I get good sleep during pregnancy? (Or any sleep at all?)
And on the list goes.
Most pregnant mamas find that early on in their pregnancy, they can sleep anytime, anyplace. Sleep is their new favorite thing, and their body wants to do it all the time.
As the pregnancy progresses, however, and your body starts to stretch and ache, sleep will be harder and harder to come by.
Pregnant and Can’t Sleep at Night
It may be something as simple as aches, pains, and pregnancy discomforts that are keeping you from sleeping, or it may be something more complicated like pregnancy insomnia.
Pregnancy insomnia is when you have difficulties falling asleep and/or staying asleep. Studies have shown that insomnia affects up to 64% of women at some point during pregnancy.
Being exhausted during the day but not being able to sleep at night is a tell-tale sign of pregnancy insomnia.
So, with such a high number of pregnant women experiencing it, what can be done about pregnancy insomnia to get more sleep?
- Try new sleeping positions (using a pregnancy pillow may solve your pregnancy insomnia)
- Wind down (turn screens off at least 30 minutes before you plan to go to bed and do something relaxing, like taking a bath or reading a book)
- Create a good sleeping environment (this is a vital part of getting babies to sleep, and it’s no different with adults)
Sleeping Positions During Pregnancy
Learning that there are right ways and wrong ways to sleep during pregnancy came as a surprise to me. I didn’t realize that the position I slept in was so vital to not only how well I slept, but the health of my growing baby, too.
Studies show that the best sleeping position during pregnancy is the “SOS” or “sleep on side” position, preferably the left side.
Sleeping on your left side increases the amount of blood and nutrients that reach your baby while you sleep.
(Other sleeping positions can actually hinder the amount of blood, oxygen, and nutrients that your baby receives.)
Sleeping on your back during pregnancy, for example, can cause backaches, problems with breathing, low blood pressure, hemorrhoids, and cause a decrease in circulation to your heart and your baby due to your abdomen resting on your intestines and major blood vessels.
All these “rules” for sleep during pregnancy, it may feel impossible to get any sleep at all.
With that said, sleeping with a pregnancy pillow will likely help you have an easier time falling asleep, staying asleep, and being comfortable while you’re sleeping so you can get deeper and longer rest.
How to Sleep During Pregnancy
Here are 7 tips to help you get more sleep during pregnancy.
Use all the pillows you need to use to get comfortable. You may find you’re comfortable enough with 1 pillow, or maybe you need 20 (and your hubby needs to find a new bed).
Usually, most moms can get away with using this one pillow in place of a dozen regular pillows.
If you choose to use a bunch of regular pillows, the best places to put them to get comfortable and have support in all the right places are:
- Between your knees
- Under your belly
- Behind your back (this helps you stay sleeping on your side and prevents you from rolling onto your back)
However, if you don’t want to use 4+ regular pillows, or the use of multiple pillows drives your husband crazy (like mine), using just the pregnancy pillow should help you get comfortable enough for a good night’s sleep. (If you’ve never seen one before, they’re pretty much just a giant C shaped pillow.)
2. Stop Drinking Two Hours Before Bedtime
Drinking enough fluids during the day is vital, especially in pregnancy.
“As a pregnant woman, you need more water than the average person, since water plays an important role in the healthy development of your baby. Water helps to form the placenta, which is what your baby relies on to receive nutrients during pregnancy. Water is also used to form the amniotic sac later in your pregnancy.” – APA
However, if you drink all day and up until when you go to bed, you’ll be making so many trips to the bathroom during the night you might as well just sleep in there.
If you stop drinking fluids around 2 hours before going to bed – besides a little sip here and there if you’re feeling thirsty – you should be able to sleep longer before needing to get up for a bathroom break.
If you find yourself chugging down right before going to bed because you realized you’ve drank next to no water today, you can carry one of these around with you to force yourself to drink water during the day.
- Anti-inflammatory properties
- Treats anxiety
- Treats insomnia
- Treats depression
- Treats restlessness
To use lavender essential oil to help with sleep during pregnancy, you’ll either want to dilute the lavender oil and rub it on your feet, temples, and wrists, or if you don’t want to rub the oil directly onto your skin, you can purchase an oil diffuser (this is an affordable option) and diffuse the oil in your room at night.
4. Use a Sound Machine
A quiet, consistent background noise often helps people sleep better by blocking out the other, inconsistent noises coming from the house or outside throughout the night.
Some people can get away with simply turning a fan on and using that as background noise, while others prefer more of a relaxing sound machine to help them sleep.
5. Turn off Screens
According to The Sleep Foundation, the artificial blue light that is emitted by devices such as TVs, cellphones, tablets, computers, or any other electronic delays your body’s internal clock and cuts off the natural release of melatonin (the sleep hormone) in your body.
Both of these work dramatically against your ability to sleep, causing you to be restless, tired, and sleep-deprived.
The article goes on to say:
“The more electronic devices that a person uses in the evening, the harder it is to fall asleep or stay asleep. Besides increasing your alertness at a time when you should be getting sleepy, which in turn delays your bedtime, using these devices before turning in delays the onset of REM sleep, reduces the total amount of REM sleep, and compromises alertness the next morning.“
So – how long before going to bed should you be turning off screens?
Turning off screens two hours before bedtime is ideal, however, it’s not always feasible. If need be, you can set your “digital curfew” just 30 minutes before bed.
Keep in mind that the earlier in the evening you can turn off electronic devices, the better you will sleep.
6. Get Movin’
Unless your doctor has advised you otherwise, regular exercise in pregnancy has endless benefits with just two of those benefits being enough to win anyone over:
- You’ll have more energy during the day
- You’ll sleep better at night
(Plus an easier labor experience, which is an added bonus.)
Now, I’m not suggesting you bust out the 50-pound dumbells and go to town. You do want to be careful when exercising in pregnancy because your balance may be off from the added weight and your body is working extra hard to pump blood through your entire body – including a whole new organ (the placenta).
Exercise in pregnancy is important.
“Now is not the time to exercise for weight loss, however, proper exercise during pregnancy will likely help with weight loss after the delivery of your baby.” – APA
Your exercises don’t need to be long – 20 to 30 minutes 3 to 4 times a week is perfectly fine – and they don’t need to be hard. The goal is to get your blood pumping and your muscles moving.
7. Avoid Naps (And a Caveat)
If you’re having a hard time getting any sleep during your pregnancy and you’re having daily naps, there’s a good chance the naps are the problem.
(I know – when naps are the only thing keeping you sane through the day, cutting them out is awful.)
If you can manage to make it through the day without a nap, try to do that and see if your nighttime sleep improves. However, pulling and all-dayer while pregnant is not fun. Here are a few things you can do to increase your energy and help you make it through the day without a nap:
- Drink more water
- Eat healthy foods/snacks
Doing these three things should help you feel better during the day and help you last longer without a nap.
BUT – if you find when you don’t have a nap you absolutely can not function during the day, try to limit your naps to once a day and 15 – 25 minutes at most.
This should be just enough of a quick pick-me-up to help you get through the rest of the day without hindering your nighttime sleep.
Sleep During Pregnancy… Your Turn
Do you have some tips and tricks up your sleeve that have helped you get some sleep during pregnancy? Feel free to share them with other expectant moms in a comment below.
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