It doesn’t take an expert to tell you that pregnancy isn’t easy.
Not only does it take a very visible toll on woman’s bodies but also it kills their sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 78% of women develop insomnia when they are expecting. And that’s just the beginning.
While this is common knowledge, formerly good sleepers are often taken off guard by the changes that naturally happen when you are expecting.
Top 10 ways pregnancy affects your sleep
2. Increased snoring
3. Increase in obstructive sleep apnea due to weight gain
4. Physical discomfort, especially at the joints
5. Frequent urination – about once an hour in the later months
6. Migraine headaches
7. Restless legs syndrome – especially in the third trimester
8. Changes in hunger cycles
9. Vivid dreams and nightmares
10. Heartburn and acid reflux at night
All of this can feel like insult onto injury, especially since common images depict pregnant women “glowing”, as though they just turned into Melanie Hamilton from Gone With the Wind.
How the heck are you supposed to do that when you’re sleep just went out the window – and might not be back until your little baby is three?
What you need to know
Here are three fundamental things that women should know about sleep during pregnancy:
- It’s absolutely normal to lose sleep
- Your sleep loss does not affect the health of your baby.
- These disruptions can’t be blamed solely on hormones.
Sure, during pregnancy hormones rush through women’s bodies like a hold-onto-your-britches rapids patch on the Colorado River – and they cause a number of discombobulated sensations and effects. But they’re not the sole reason why you’re not sleeping.
The big reason behind why you’re not resting like you used to? You’re pregnant. It’s a lot for any body to undergo, and we know that the smallest body changes can interrupt sleep.
Steps to take
If you are normally a great sleeper, the sudden difficulties that pregnancy brings can seem insurmountable. However, you can take a few proactive steps to get better sleep. That’s right; it is possible to sleep during pregnancy. These tricks will go a long way to help you cope with daily obligations and some of the fatigue that comes with any pregnancy.
1. Make sleep a priority
Get to bed earlier, and give yourself time to wind down with a relaxing activity, such as a bath or listening to music.
Avoid spicy and acidic foods. Chose foods rich in minerals, fats and fiber. Eat smaller meals more often. Keep yourself hydrated. Pick up some over-the-counter antacids for any heartburn.
3. Take a walk.
30 minutes of easy-to-moderate exercise a day is a safe way to get better sleep. Fresh air is also great for your morale, and your sleep.
4. Sleep on your left side
This increases blood flow to the fetus and takes pressure off your kidneys. Also try wedging a pillow between your legs to take pressure off your hips. Sleeping on your back is okay, but it’s best to limit it as much as possible.
5. Take naps.
They are usually a welcome opportunity to get off your feet and get some rest. The exception may be naps late in the day, as these can stall your regular bedtime.
6. Don’t lie in bed and worry if you can’t sleep
The best middle-of the-night activities are those that are calming and repetitive and can be done in low-light conditions, such as knitting, reading, prenatal yoga, or taking another bath. Avoid watching TV or turning on a bright light as this can stall sleep even further.
7. Take comfort that this is only temporary
Many of these symptoms will pass quickly after your delivery day.
Just remember: When you’re pregnant, you don’t have to keep up with the pace of normal life, and you don’t have to pretend to be cheerful and glowing all the time, either.
Instead, adapt to these new routines to help you get the sleep you need, and make sure to cut yourself a little slack if it’s not 100 percent perfect. You’ve got enough on your plate as it is; no sense losing sleep over it.