How to Sleep Through The Night Whilst Pregnant
Pregnancy brings many physical changes, and sleep is a significant one. Pregnant women may experience difficulty with sleep, which can rob you of the rest you need to stay healthy, active, and feel your best whilst pregnant.
Why Sleep Can be Difficult During Pregnancy
When you’re pregnant, your body changes. Some of the pregnancy changes that can interfere with sleep include:
- Hormonal shifts
- Frequent urination
- Weight gain/increased belly size
- Body aches
- General discomfort
- Vivid dreams
It’s common for pregnant women to feel uncomfortable in sleeping positions that used to feel fine, or get up frequently during the night to go to the bathroom, especially early and late in pregnancy. Heartburn can be a factor as well, especially if you eat food that can trigger heartburn before bed, Some women experience pregnancy insomnia, which can sometimes occur due to the hormonal changes that happen during pregnancy.
How to Sleep Better During Pregnancy
Though pregnancy sleep can be a challenge it doesn’t have to be impossible. Giving yourself the time you need to sleep well and get adequate rest can help you feel better and face your pregnancy with more energy.
- Plan for more sleep time. When you’re pregnant, your sleep needs increase. Plan to get at least eight hours of sleep at night, plus you may need time for napping during the day as well. Don’t skimp out on sleep at night, and consider dropping commitments or other responsibilities that interfere with your time sleeping at night.
- Nap during the day. Napping is sometimes problematic for nighttime sleep, leaving you too well rested to get a good night of sleep. But with increased needs for rest, napping can be helpful when you’re pregnant. Plan for short naps during the day as needed. However, it’s best to avoid napping for more than 30 minutes at a time, or napping after 3 p.m.
- Cut back on nighttime fluids. Pregnant women need to drink more fluids than normal, but increased fluid consumption at night can have you running to the bathroom while you should be sleeping. Don’t wait til late in the day to satisfy your needs for drinking water, and avoid caffeinated beverages in the afternoon, evening, and night.
- Have a snack before bed. Nighttime queasiness and hunger can interfere with healthy sleep. Sit upright for a few hours after eating to cut down on the potential for heartburn and digestive issues while you’re sleeping. Make sure you’re having a small snack before bed so you’re not waking up hungry in the night, and consider keeping a snack on your bedside table at night so you don’t have to fully wake up and go all the way to the kitchen to satisfy middle of the night hunger.
- Modify your sleep positions. In pregnancy, what used to feel comfortable during sleep may not be comfortable anymore. Sleeping on your back may no longer be a good idea for circulation, and stomach sleeping is probably completely out of the question once your belly starts to grow. Sleeping on your side is generally the best choice, and sleeping on your left side can be good for circulation. Some women benefit from sleeping with a pillow in between their knees for better alignment, or a pregnancy pillow that can relieve pressure points throughout the body.
Although pregnancy is just the start of sleep difficulties that come with newborns, it’s not impossible to get the sleep you need whilst pregnant. Practice healthy sleep habits and give yourself the time you need to get rest so you can maintain good health and energy throughout your pregnancy.
Sara Westgreen is a researcher for the sleep science hub Tuck. She sleeps on a king size bed in Texas, where she defends her territory against cats all night. A mother of three, she enjoys beer, board games, and getting as much sleep as she can get her hands on.