It’s well known that parents can expect sleep loss once the baby arrives, but many don’t realise how your body is affected by sleep and lack thereof while pregnant.
From the need to slow down and sleep more as your body adjusts and your baby begins to grow to the discomfort, heartburn, aches and pains, and constant bathroom trips, affecting our normal sleep pattern, it can be very hard to get a good night’s sleep while pregnant.
But do not worry, we’ve got your back and have put together some of our favourite tips and tricks to help you improve your sleep while you’re pregnant.
1. Focus on what you eat to help you sleep
Pregnant or not, you’re probably aware that what you consume before bed can either keep you wide awake or help you fall asleep that bit faster.
Avoid eating lots of sugar before bed, despite all those ice cream cravings you may have! If you suffer from heartburn, steer clear of chocolate, citrus fruit and peppermint before turning in for the night.
Some say that drinking a warm cup of milk before bed can help you relax and nod off. There is an amino acid found in milk that experts say make the eyelids heavy by raising levels of serotonin in your brain. May seem far-fetched, but if it helps you fall asleep faster, we’re all for it.
If you find yourself waking up consistently in the middle of the night feeling hungry, eat a protein-rich snack before bed. A hard-boiled egg, a scoop of peanut butter, or a handful of almonds can keep you feeling full throughout the night.
2. Avoid liquids before bed
Stay hydrated during the day so that you can aim to stop drinking liquids 3 hours before bed.
This really will cut down on those midnight bathroom breaks. Drinking can also excite the baby and a late-night gymnastics session in your uterus is not conducive to getting better sleep!
Also, keep an eye on your caffeine intake - it’s best to avoid coffee after lunch. This will allow your body time to process the stimulant out of your system.
3. Get the right pillows
When it comes to sleeping whilst pregnant, pillows are your new best friend. You honestly cannot have enough, but let’s make sure you have the right ones...
If you suffer from heartburn while pregnant, invest in medium to heavy-firm pillows. Prop them behind your shoulders and try to sleep upright, not directly on your back, so the heartburn isn’t so intense at night.
If you toss from side to side because your hips hurt when sleeping, it’s time to get a body pillow. You wrap it in between your legs to even out your hips while sleeping. If you can’t afford a body pillow, try using one extra firm pillow propped in between your knees. You can also try and use an egg-crate foam mattress topper for extra support while sleeping on your side.
4. Clear your head and surroundings
Where you actually lay down and go to sleep should be a place that feels like a sanctuary: calming, clean, and peaceful. So, prior to falling asleep, put away any clothes on the floor and tidy your bedside table. Then, when you are ready to turn off the lights, do just that - don’t have any unnecessary lights on, as this can be a distraction when you’re trying to fall asleep.
Stress and anxiety are key culprits in preventing a good night's sleep. Remember that worrying won't help you, but talking about your problems will. To unload any worries before you turn in for the night, keep a notebook next to your bed to jot down any worries that might be on your mind.
5. Create a bedtime routine
Children and babies are not the only people who benefit from a bedtime routine. Adults, too, should establish some bedtime practices that help them wind down, both physically and mentally.
If you are in the habit of scrolling through Instagram or Pinterest before you fall asleep, stop.
This somewhat mindless activity can keep you wide awake because you are staring at a bright screen trying to process a lot of information quickly. Instead, switch a gentle light on and curl up with a good book, or some quiet classical music. Relaxation and breathing apps such as Calm and Headspace can also help you give into sleep. Additionally, lavender is supposed to be a calming and relaxing scent, so put on some lavender-infused lotion on your hands and feet to help you relax before crawling into bed or look into effective pillow sprays.
Remember, your body needs all the rest it can get right now so once you start feeling sleepy at night, allow yourself to get into bed.