Getting a night's sleep while pregnant
Getting a good night’s sleep whilst you are pregnant can be a difficult task, but not impossible. I have put together some helpful tips that will help you get comfortable and feel better rested during your pregnancy.
Do. Find a comfortable sleeping position.
As you get bigger, it may become more difficult to get into a comfortable position. Early on in your pregnancy get into the habit of sleeping on your side. Side sleeping with your knees slightly bent will be the most comfortable position you will be able to get into as you head into your third trimester. It will be worth experimenting with some pillows to support your bump. You might like one to support your expanding tummy or one between your legs and/or one at your back to help prop you up. As my final pregnancy evolved I found a wedge very helpful to support my VERY big bump!
Do. Get up around the same time every day.
This will help to keep your system working efficiently and condition your body to sleep and wake at the right sort of time.
Do. Get enough sleep.
Most of us need around 7-9 hours and possibly more when we are growing a new life. Consider going to bed early as a great way of getting more sleep. The more rested you are before birth, potentially the easier you will find the adjustment.
Do. Cut down or ideally remove tea and coffee and fizzy drinks.
Too much caffeine and stimulants like fizzy drinks and chocolate affect sleep in general and during your pregnancy if sleep is an issue it may be worth restricting your intake to the morning or at least early afternoon. Avoiding caffeine after 2pm would be advisable. Restricting your intake to 1 cup a day would be recommended and can have a positive impact on your sleep.
Do. Stay Hydrated.
Make sure that you are well hydrated, but cut down as bedtime approaches in order to prevent your sleep being interrupted by needing to use the toilet excessively throughout the night. As your pregnancy progresses, needing to use the bathroom frequently can be part of the package – don’t turn on lights and avoid over-stimulating yourself when you do have to get up and use the toilet or you may find going back to sleep hard.
Do. Have a Nap.
If you feel like you need to sleep, do. Pretty soon you will be having frequent night waking with your baby and it won’t be about you anymore! So grab some rest whenever your body indicates that it needs it. Short 30-60 minutes sleeps during the day can help make up for lost sleep. Avoid napping after 2.30-3pm to ensure that night time sleep is still easy to achieve.
Don’t. Eat or drink too close to sleep time.
Observe a recommended balanced diet throughout the day and avoid eating a large meal within a few hours of bedtime. It may be best if you finish eating 2-3 hours before bedtime.
Don’t. Exercise too close to bedtime.
Regular exercise with your GP’s consent, during the day will improve your circulation and reduce leg cramps and enhance your mood, but doing this too close to bedtime will make it hard for you to go to sleep. Avoid exercise in the final 3 hours before bedtime to make sure that you are not interfering with your ability to switch off. Develop a calm bedtime ritual like a warm bath or hot drink, listening to music, to help prepare your body for bedtime.
About the Author
Lucy Wolfe is Paediatric sleep consultant and mum of four at Sleep Matters-Help Your Child Sleep; a private sleep consulting practice, based in Cork, where she enjoys providing knowledge, expertise and valuable support with tailored sleep plans to families across the country and over-seas, without using cry intensive methods. Author of The Baby Sleep Solution. www.sleepmatters.ie
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