If you haven’t been able to sleep in days, chances are that you are feeling tired and irritable. Most pregnant women either have trouble sleeping, or wake up in the middle of the night and cannot fall back to sleep. But a few tips can help you solve that problem.
Most pregnant women need a lot of rest. And considering the fact that once you have your baby, you will barely ever catch a full night’s sleep, it is also very important that you rest enough before the little one comes along. While most women sleep a lot during their first trimester, it is later in the pregnancy that most sleep related issues begin. In a detailed survey done by National Sleep Foundation, it was revealed that 4 out of every 5 pregnant women complain of sleep troubles. The researchers found out that the reasons included increased heartbeat, shortness of breath, hormonal changes and increased bulk which made the woman uncomfortable. Keeping these issues in mind, we have put together a few tips that can help you sleep better.
1. Do not nap frequently –
In your first trimester, you will constantly feel the urge to nap. However, this is best avoided. According to Dr. Grace Pien who is a sleep researcher at University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Sleep and Respiratory Neurobilogy, naps are best avoided because they make you less tired at night. It is a good idea to be thoroughly tired at night, so that you are physically and mentally ready to crash. By taking short afternoon naps, you increase the chances of finding it difficult to fall asleep at night or end up waking in the middle of the night. Also, having a strict sleeping schedule helps.
2. Get more comfortable –
When you are pregnant, your body produces a hormone Relaxin that might help your body for childbirth, but also loosens out ligaments. You will have several aches and pains, which make it very difficult to get comfortable enough to drift off to sleep. Finding a comfortable position to sleep is important. Sleeping on your back or your belly will only make you more uncomfortable, so start to sleep on your side. Also, buying a body pillow that supports your belly while you sleep will help you a lot.
3. Deal with stress –
According to Dr. Kathryn Lee, a UCSF professor, there is a deep relationship between complications that arise during labor and poor sleep pattern in pregnant women. She suggests that stress and anxiety must be kept at bay, so pregnant women can sleep better. “When you are exhausted, your muscles get tired”, says Lee. Pregnant women worry about so many things. It could be how they will handle the pressures of a job and a new baby, or financial issues after the baby arrives. According to Dr. Lee, tired muscles make it tougher to push more effectively when a woman goes in to labor. And this is why, it is very important to deal with stress and go to bed with a calm mind. She recommends that pregnant women try yoga and meditation, which help them connect with their inner peace and also helps them establish a more regular sleep pattern.
4. Don’t drink too much water before bed –
When you are pregnant, you have a more frequent urge to urinate. Most mom-to-be end up drinking a lot of water to keep hydrated. But it is best to cut down the intake of fluids post 4pm. The kidneys are working harder to filter blood for you and your baby, and an enlarged belly puts pressure on the bladder. So try and get all your fluid requirements in the first half of the day, so that your sleep is not disturbed by several trips to the bathroom at night.
5. Don’t worry about bad dreams –
Study done on Dream associated behaviors affecting Pregnant and Postpartum Women by Dream & Nightmare Laboratory, Department of Psychiatry, Quebec, Canada revealed that more than 59% women have bad dreams while pregnant, which makes it more difficult to fall asleep again. While the researchers say that this is normal behavior as a mother-to-be feels scared for her baby, it is important to not think of it as a premonition. Anxiety and hormonal imbalance can make these dreams get worse too. So seek out relaxing breathing techniques or practice yoga or meditation to quell anxiety. Before bedtime, listen to calming music or read a book to put all bad thoughts at bay.
These tips can really help you sleep better when pregnant. Also, keep in mind that while these issues will resolve themselves once your pregnancy is over, the newborn will take their place to keep you awake! So get as much sleep as you can before the baby arrives, Mommy!
*This article was also submitted to Healthviva.com