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Getting your Zzzzs During Pregnancy
8/1/2020 1:00:00 PM

Sleep during Pregnancy

Are you pregnant and having a hard time sleeping? Unfortunately, that’s rather normal when you’re growing a baby. Extra weight on your bladder means more nighttime trips to the toilet, in addition to heartburn, backaches, and anxiety keeping you awake through the wee hours. Dr. Phillip Conner, medical director at The Sleep Disorder Center of Louisiana, says there are numerous stressors during pregnancy – biological, hormonal, and emotional – that result in sleepless nights. "As the pregnancy develops the challenges change. Early in pregnancy, there are rapid increases in hormones which can drive insomnia while late in pregnancy the issues mainly come from physical discomforts as the baby grows. To provide the reserves necessary for a healthy pregnancy, the need for sleep must remain a priority.”

While sleep is naturally a challenge during pregnancy, it is also the time when you most need to rest for the health of both you and your developing baby. Plus, after delivery, your newborn will wake you up for feedings at all hours of the night.

How can you maximize your sleep comfort for better rest?

  • Establish good sleep habits. Dr. Conner suggests maintaining a relaxing, consistent schedule in the evenings. Go to bed at the same time each evening. Put away your phone and set aside social media a few hours before sleep. If you are anxious, consider journaling to help sort out your thoughts.
  • Use pillows. Put one pillow under your belly and one between your legs to raise your abdomen and support your back and hips. A body-length pillow is especially useful. Sleep on your left side for improved circulation with knees bent to relieve pressure on your back. Use blocks to elevate the head of the bed a few inches to ease breathing and prevent stomach reflux.
  • Exercise. Aim for 30-minutes of movement each day. Stay active, for example, a walk early in the day, to improve your sleep. Avoid exercise for four hours prior to bedtime.
  • Relax before bedtime. Try a calming pregnancy yoga video, a warm bath, or a massage.
  • Limit fluids in the evening. It’s important to say hydrated, but if you cut back on liquids two or three hours before bedtime, you’ll lessen the need to urinate at night. Avoid caffeine later in the day, as well.
  • Lower the thermostat. Pregnancy causes you to feel warmer, and cooler air is generally more conducive to good sleep.
  • Dr.  Conner says sleeping meds should be avoided, including melatonin, unless approved by your obstetrician. If insomnia does develop, have a plan in place to handle wakeful events effectively, including getting up to do a relaxing activity rather than laying in bed and getting more aggravated.

While pregnancy is a wonderful time, it presents unique challenges for maintaining good sleep. Dr.  Conner recommends you keep open communication with your loved ones when a problem develops, as the earlier it is addressed the easier it is to treat.

Pregnancy Sleep Tips

  • Maintain a regular sleep/wake cycle.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Cutback on fluids at night before bedtime.
  • Avoid spicy foods and heavy meals before bedtime in the evenings.
  • Sleep on your left side.
  • Use pillows for support.
  • When having trouble sleeping get out of bed and find a relaxing activity such as reading.
  • Take short naps during the day.
Posted by: Angie Kay Dilmore | Submit comment | Tell a friend

Categories: Parenting

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