Why is the relationship between sleep and pregnancy so challenging? I always thought it was so unfair that the further along in my pregnancy I got, the less quality sleep I got. Then the last couple of nights before going into labor I hardly slept at all. Just not fair.
This advice comes from Amanda Lasater from mattressadvisor.com. Hope you find it helpful.
The joy of pregnancy is often marred by feelings of tiredness and difficulty sleeping – particularly as the pregnancy progresses and it becomes more difficult to get comfortable in bed. Many pregnant women get more sleep in the first trimester but experience a drop in their quality of sleep. Some even develop problems with insomnia. Getting enough sleep throughout pregnancy is beneficial in many ways. Sleep is when our bodies restore themselves, process memories and learning, boost our immune system and produce growth hormones that keep us fit and healthy. This is even more important for moms to be who are growing the placenta and uterus for their new life within.
Common issues of sleep when pregnant
As much as 78% of pregnant women experience difficulty sleeping. Pregnancy can change this your sleeping pattern, even if you have never experienced issues with sleep before. This is for a number of reasons. A fast-expanding baby bump, changes in hormones, night-time bathroom visits, worries about labor, parenthood and new responsibilities can all take their toll on an expectant mother’s sleep quality.
Common sleep problems range from general discomfort to heartburn and onto Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS). Understanding the issues can help lead to a solution.
General discomfort is more likely to occur during the second and third trimesters when expectant mom’s bodies are changing fast. Sleeping on your back or front becomes uncomfortable and dangerous thanks to the growing weight of the baby being carried. Sleeping on the side can be uncomfortable without proper support.
Heartburn is another common complaint of expectant mothers and is often worse when lying down. However, in the third trimester, heartburn can be exacerbated. This happens when the womb pushes up on the stomach.
The frequent urge to head to the bathroom in the first and third trimesters. This is due to a change in hormones and increased pressure on the bladder. These nighttime calls of nature lead to disrupted sleep, making it difficult to progress through the full four phases of sleep that are necessary to wake up feeling rested and rejuvenated.
Leg cramps are common in the second trimester and thought to be associated with lower calcium and magnesium levels. When cramps occur, straighten your leg and gently stretch your ankle and foot towards your nose without pointing the toes.
RLS affects around 15% of pregnant women and causes an uncomfortable crawling or tingling sensation in the legs along with the urge to move them. Usually, in the third trimester of pregnancy, RLS can make it almost impossible to get enough sleep.
Managing sleep issues during pregnancy
It seems a cruel trick of Mother Nature to deliver all of these sleep issues with pregnancy. Fortunately, there are ways to manage them to ensure your best chances of getting enough sleep when you’re expecting.
General discomfort when it comes to sleeping can be managed with the help of pregnancy support pillows. Specifically designed for pregnant women, these pillows can be placed in the bed with you to help you find and maintain the best position for comfort when sleeping.
Avoiding drinks later in the evening can minimize nocturnal calls of nature. Emptying your bladder before you head to bed can also be a good solution.
Additionally, avoiding spicy, acidic or greasy foods can reduce heartburn. Eating smaller meals at least two hours before bedtime can help. Sleeping on your left side or propping your head up a little can also help night-time heartburn.
Leg cramps can be a painful wake-up call in the middle of the night and as they are thought to be associated with low calcium and magnesium levels, increasing your intake of these minerals may help – yogurt is a great source of calcium while green leafy vegetables, chickpeas, and legumes are all high in magnesium.
If you experience RLS, have your doctor get your iron levels tested. Low levels of magnesium and vitamin D can also contribute to RLS, so supplements may help. If you find your iron, magnesium and vitamin D levels are fine there are other options. Acupuncture, yoga, and meditation also relieve symptoms of RLS.
Support better sleep in pregnancy
Even if you are not experiencing difficulties sleeping throughout pregnancy, it doesn’t hurt to make sure you’re getting quality sleep with a few simple daily practices.
Getting enough exercise throughout the day will keep you healthy. It will also help you feel ready for bed when it gets to the end of the day. If you can’t commit to a gym membership, try walking in your lunch break.
Meditation and relaxing yoga can work wonders for getting a great night’s rest. Furthermore, sticking to the same bed and wake time will keep your circadian rhythms in order. This will help you get the most from your night-time slumber.