Experiencing your first pregnancy is an exciting time in your life. But with the good comes a few not-so-pleasant side effects, including sleep troubles. Sleep is important for everyone, but it’s particularly critical for soon-to-be moms who are sleeping for two.
When you’re pregnant, it can be hard to get a good night’s sleep for a couple of reasons. For one, as your baby grows, it’s difficult for you to settle into a comfortable position or shift around. You may also have to deal with frequent trips to the bathroom, back aches, and heartburn.
Luckily, there are some tricks that can help you get the rest you and your little one need. No matter what stage of pregnancy you’re in, try out some of these tips to help you enjoy a better night’s sleep.
1. Sleep on your side
Most doctors recommend pregnant women sleep on their sides as opposed to their backs or stomachs. Ideally, try sleeping on your left side with your knees bent to improve your body’s blood flow and relieve kidney pressure. Get a few good pillows to support your body, too. For example, if you’re experiencing heartburn, prop your head up on one of those extra pillows. You may also want to place one between your knees to relieve any pain or tension.
2. Cut back on fluids before bedtime
As your baby grows in the womb, you’ll notice some increased pressure on your bladder that results in a frequent need to urinate. You can reduce the number of bathroom breaks you take in the middle of the night by cutting back on fluids a few hours before bedtime. It’s still important to stay hydrated, so drink plenty of water early in the day—just cut back how much you drink in the evening.
3. Eliminate sugary, carbonated beverages from your diet
A lack of calcium can cause leg cramps, a typical side effect of pregnancy that can disrupt your sleep. Soda and soft drinks high in phosphoric acid could potentially reduce how much calcium your body retains, which may lead to more leg cramps. Put the soda away and opt for healthier beverages like milk, water, and unsweetened fruit juice.
You may even want to talk to your doctor about taking a calcium supplement. Likewise, eat more calcium-, iron-, and folate-rich foods, such as dairy and leafy greens, to reduce your risk for leg cramps.
4. Invest in a better mattress
If your mattress is more than eight years old or you’ve been considering upgrading your mattress, now is the ideal time. It’s essential to get enough rest when you’re pregnant, and a comfortable bed can do wonders to improve your sleep. Search for one that offers enough support but that still feels firm or soft enough for your preferences. Memory foam mattresses or mattress pads are great for pregnant women, as this bedding material relieves pressure and contours to your body.
5. Keep your room cool
When you’re pregnant, your metabolic rate increases, making you feel warmer than usual—especially when you’re sleeping. Don’t let the heat keep you up at night. Turn on a ceiling fan or place a stand-alone fan near your bed. Not A fan will not only keep you feeling cool but it can also provide a soothing hum to help you fall asleep. Stick to cotton sheets, too, because they breathe better and can help you stay cooler.
6. Be careful about what you eat
Many pregnant women may experience heartburn and indigestion. If you’re among that group, you might end up waking in the middle of the night or struggling to fall asleep. To curb the effects of heartburn or indigestion, steer clear of spicy and acidic foods. Instead, opt for lighter meals high in fiber and low in saturated fats and sugar. Giving yourself a few hours to digest your food before going to bed may also help you avoid an upset stomach that can disrupt your sleep.
7. Nap during the day
If you’re struggling to sleep at night, try napping during the day to catch up on those ZZZs. Quick, thirty-minute naps can improve alertness without negatively impacting your nighttime sleep. Keep your sleep patterns consistent by planning out your naps. Try one or two twenty- to thirty-minute naps in the late morning and early afternoon if you’re feeling sluggish. Just make sure you don’t nap later than 4 p.m., or you might have trouble falling asleep when it’s time for bed.
8. Exercise earlier than later
Working out during your pregnancy keeps you healthy and can help you enjoy a better night’s sleep. But the time of day you work out could affect your sleep. Exercising late in the evening and energizing your mind and body may actually result in poorer sleep. Stick to exercising in the mornings or afternoons and give yourself four or so hours to wind down before going to bed. If you feel restless at night, do some light stretching, meditation, or yoga to relax.
Sleep is very important during pregnancy, so take the time to establish healthy habits that promote a solid night’s rest. Following the above tips can help you experience fewer disruptions throughout the night.