All pregnant women wish to have a smooth and healthy maternity period. Sleep is one of the main aspects of staying in a good mental and physical state during your pregnancy. In this article we are going to outline why sleep is quite important, the reasons of experiencing disturbances during sleep and the ways to improve your sleep when you are pregnant.
Why Is It Necessary To Have a Good Night's Sleep For Pregnant Women?
It is not easy to develop another life inside you, is it? Baby’s development process and hormonal changes can cause more fatigue and loss of energy and activity. Your immune system can weaken and you may need more rest than usual.
Healthy and proper 8 to 9 hour sleep can be quite efficient to restore your energy, strengthen your immune system and stay mobile and active throughout a day.
If before pregnancy you slept less and you find it hard to stick to such time recommendations, try to take 20 minute naps from time to time during the day but not in the late evening.
We do not recommend to sleep 5-6 hours every night as there is higher risk of having high blood pressure, insomnia, breathing difficulties, constant urge of moving your legs (RLS), caesarian delivery or have a prematurely born baby. Lack of sleep can also increase a risk of mood disturbances and it can become more difficult for women to get a good night’s sleep even after their childbirth.
Why do pregnant women dind it difficult to sleep well during pregnancy?
Baby growth has a great impact on your hormonal state and body system that can disturb your everyday sleep.
Let us explain several factors that prevent good night’s sleep.
- In early pregnancy period it is possible to feel morning nausea and fatigue that can interfere with your sleep;
- Enlarged uterus presses on your bladder, thus provoking more frequent urination, thus more often night bathroom walks;
- Increased body temperature;
- Leg cramps can also happen and they tend to appear at night;
- Hormonal changes:
-Hormones such as progesterone and estrogen, which are responsible for your menstruation cycle, rise dramatically disturbing your sleep and causing feeling of increased sleepiness during daytime;
-Uterus contractions, caused by the hormone oxytocin, may appear at night and interfere with your sleep in late pregnancy.
- Back ache because of the increasing weight of the baby
- Even simply baby movements in a belly and women’s stress of the upcoming baby can lead to sleep disruption
Moreover, some pregnant women can suffer from acid reflux or heartburn (unpleasant burning feeling in the chest) that can disturb your sleep. You can experience that especially in a lying position. It may also be possible to have breathing disorders (sleep apnea) that result in snoring that can also interrupt your sleeping time.
Besides, because of lack of iron and folic acid during pregnancy, pregnant women are at higher risk of developing a restless leg syndrome (the constant urge of moving your legs, can be itching) that can also affect your sleep.
HOW TO FIND YOUR BEST SLEEPING POSITION DURING PREGNANCY?
For those pregnant women who used to sleep on their backs we recommend to change position to the side. Back sleeping causes your abdomen to push on your blood vessels flowing under the belly and may prevent from letting enough oxygen and blood going from heart to the placenta. For those who admire to sleep on their stomach, it is quite a normal thing to do in early pregnancy. However, when the belly grows, this position will become less comfortable to sleep and can have some negative effects like sleeping on the back side.
If you may ask which side is better, left or right, both are equally safe for your sleep and you can turn to either side whatever makes you feel comfortable.
However, it is commonly known that the best sleeping position is on the left side and with legs bent as it:
- allows a better blood circulation from your heart directly to the belly and your baby
- keeps your increased body weight from pressing on liver and kidneys
- facilitates better breathing
However, do not be worried if during the night or in the morning you turn out to sleep on your back. The main thing is to have a good night’s sleep and not staying awake and checking whether you are in a good position or not.
Nevertheless, if you wish to secure sleep on a side, you will need a pillow to support your belly and a pillow to put between your knees.
If this option is still not good for you, if you still feel discomfort because of a weight of the belly and you feel like you are having not enough support, we advise you to obtain a special pregnancy pillow. It will allow to fix your body on a certain side, plus supporting the heaviness of your belly. With a help of a U-shape pregnancy pillow your legs being placed around, back and head will be additionally supported, providing rest for the muscles and facilitating better sleep. It is important to mention that you can adjust a pregnancy pillow according to your belly shape.
You can find such pregnancy pillows of different shapes for your body comfort on our website.
HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR SLEEP DURING PREGNANCY?
Sleep treatment can include creating and getting used to certain sleeping habits and necessity of sleep hygiene. It is recommended to:
Have adequate sleep time (8-9 hours)
- if there are difficulties to sleep according to such time requirements, take a few 20min naps during the day, but not in the late evening;
- keep stable sleep schedule (wake up and go to bed at the same time every day);
- do not oversleep
Make some preparation for sleep. Thus it will be easier and quicker to fall asleep
- take a warm bath one-two hours before sleep;
-read some book or magazine;
- go for a little walk outside
Create comfortable sleeping environment
- a room has to be dark and cool;.
- use a sleeping mask and earplugs for better sleep quality
Exclude yourself from any electronic devices for at least one hour before going to bed
Use your bed only for sleeping
- try not to engage in activities when you are in a bed like watching TV or being glued to gadget screens, eating or playing games
- Left side sleeping with legs bent and a pillow between knees and a pillow supporting your belly and back for reducing lower back pain;
-obtaining a pregnancy pillow for better comfort and body support
-have a few small meals instead of three big meals;
- avoid eating spicy, fried or heavy food to decrease the risk of heartburn;
- drink a lot of water, for avoiding leg cramps or constipation, but reduce the amount of fluids before 5pm to avoid frequent need of urination at night;
- enrich your diet with food that contains calcium and magnesium;
- do not go to bed on an empty stomach
Avoid alcohol, caffeine and tranquilizers.
Stay physically active during the day
- do some regular 30min exercise every day, around 4-6 hours before going to bed;
- go out for a walk regularly;
- practice relaxation and anti-stress techniques such as yoga, stretching, meditation or massage therapy
QUESTIONS TO ASK DOCTOR ABOUT SLEEPING IN PREGNANCY
It is quite important and a natural thing to do by consulting your personal doctor concerning your sleeping state during pregnancy. The doctor can give you some precious advice of which sleeping habits to follow, analyze your sleep problems and regulate your sleep schedule according to your own sleep features.
The other necessary thing during consultation is to ask your personal questions about your sleep disturbances and how to improve it. All the information above can already help you respond to most frequent questions asked by pregnant women, but let us outline some other important questions to ask your doctor:
-How will I understand if I get enough sleep?
-Are there any sleep medications that I can use during pregnancy?
-What diet should I keep to have a better night’s sleep?
- Is it necessary to do exercises? If yes, which are useful?
- What should I do to reduce stress?
If you wish that your doctor understood better your sleep state, it will be good to keep a diary and note down some necessary details for example your time and frequency of night and nap sleep or write recommendations from your doctor.
Sleep is an important part of well-being of pregnant women and their babies. During baby growth future mothers experience changes in hormones and their body system, mental and physical state, affecting their sleep. As a result, all these factors can cause some symptoms that can make pregnant women feel tired and need a lot of rest and sleep.
It is recommended to follow proper sleep hygiene habits and consult your doctor in order to get a good night’s sleep, reduce a risk of facing lots of symptoms including sleep disorders and secure a safe baby birth.
Therefore, getting enough sleep is one of the key remedies of self-recovery and healthy pregnancy.
KidsHealth 2022, Sleep during pregnancy, 2022
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NIH) 2019, Pregnancy sleep position, 2019
National Health Service (NHS) 2020, Tiredness and sleep problems, 2020
Cronin, Robin S., et al. “An Individual Participant Data Meta-Analysis of Maternal Going-to-Sleep Position, Interactions with Fetal Vulnerability, and the Risk of Late Stillbirth.” EClinicalMedicine, Elsevier, 2 Apr. 2019