Getting some much needed rest while you’re pregnant can be a challenge. Whether it’s hormonal changes, physical discomfort, nervousness or excitement — the odds sometimes seem stacked against you. Our expert tips can help you finally get some much needed shut eye.
A variety of factors contribute to sleep discomfort throughout pregnancy, but many can be easily managed. Follow our advice and tips and you should be nodding off in no time.
Make the room the perfect temperature:
Make sure your bedroom temperature is optimal for sleep. The National Sleep Foundation (NSF; sleepfoundation.org) suggests about 65 F for a great night’s sleep.
Stay on schedule.
Create a daily schedule for yourself and stick to it. Get up around the same time, try to exercise around the same time, and maintain a steady bedtime.
Here’s a good schedule to shoot for:
- Get up every morning at the same time (example: 7 a.m.)
- Expose your eyes to natural light in the morning to help restart your circadian clock.
- Dim the lights and limit exposure to blue light after 7 p.m.
- Go to bed at about the same time every night (example: 11 p.m.).
- Continue to avoid blue light throughout the night.
Hydrate at the right times.
It is important to drink plenty of fluids during pregnancy, especially during the day. But because your uterus is pressing against your bladder, you may find yourself running to the bathroom more often. To help lessen the need to get up at night, reduce the amount of water and other liquids you drink in the few hours leading up to bedtime.
Nix bedtime snacks.
Eating before bedtime affects sleep quality. Pregnant women should avoid sugar, caffeine, simple carbs — all of which can be too stimulating prior to bed. And, of course, avoid alcohol.
Sometimes lying down can contribute to heartburn when you’re pregnant. To prevent this, don’t get prone until at least a couple hours after eating. If heartburn is a problem, you can try elevating your head with pillows while you sleep. Avoid spicy, fried, or acidic foods like tomato products — these often can worsen heartburn. Note: Talk to your doctor if you experience consistent heartburn while pregnant.
Exercise at the right time.
If your doctor has given you the green light for exercise, working out can help you sleep better at night. Schedule your sessions for the morning and avoid pre-bed workouts, as the latter can disrupt sleep.
Sleep on your left side.
The NSF recommends that you sleep on your left side during your third trimester. This allows for the best blood flow to the fetus and to your uterus and kidneys. Avoid lying flat on your back for a long period of time. Also, if you’re having trouble getting comfy in bed, consider obtaining a "pregnancy" pillow or use regular pillows to help support your body.
Take a nap.
Catching a couple extra Zzzs during the day may help you sleep better at night. An NSF poll found that 51 percent of pregnant or recently pregnant women reported at least one weekday nap; 60 percent reported at least one weekend nap.
Indulge in a warm bath or shower before you go to bed. The water can help you relax, unwind, and slip away to dreamland more quickly.