8 Tips for Better Sleep During Pregnancy

Being well-rested reduces stress and fuels you for labour
pregnant woman sleeping
Piotr Marcinski/Shutterstock.com

How many times have you heard or said the following statement?

“Waking up frequently during pregnancy is your body’s way of preparing for the baby’s arrival.”

As soon as you mention sleep challenges while pregnant, you’re likely to hear that in response. Yes, night time nausea, bladder pressure, adjusting to sleep with the changes happening in the body can make pregnancy sleep harder. Your ever-changing body can make sleeping seem virtually impossible at times. If you are a back or stomach sleeper, having to sleep on your side is something you will have to adjust to. If you are used to sleeping the whole night through, waking to use the bathroom a half dozen or so times will be another adjustment.

It’s true, sleeping during pregnancy can be a pain – literally and figuratively. But all that doesn’t mean that sleep needs to be a struggle throughout your whole pregnancy. Even with so many common sleep disruptors, there are things you can do to help boost the sleep you are getting now.

Keep the room dark

Light interferes with sleep! When getting up to go to the bathroom, use a small night-light to guide you. If you turn on the light when you get up, your body will read that light as a sign of daytime and slow the production of melatonin, making it much harder to fall back to sleep once you return to bed.

Create a routine

Establishing a bedtime routine can help the body start to relax and prepare for sleep. The routine can be simple as long as bedtime is consistent within 30 minutes every night. Going to bed between 10:00 and 10:30 pm ensures that the body is getting adequate time to repair from the day. Staying up later than that slows the start time for those repairs.

Turn off electronics

Blue light is the worst light for sleep. Turning off your phone, computer or TV early,  not just the moment before you crash, can have a positive effect on your sleep. When exposed to blue light in the two hours leading up to sleep, the body slows its production of melatonin, which makes falling asleep and staying asleep much harder. So turn off those electronics: take a nice bath, go for a walk, write in your journal.

Let natural sunlight in

Getting natural, unfiltered sunlight in your eyes first thing in the morning can do wonders for your internal clock. The pineal gland, which is responsible for the production of melatonin and helps maintain the circadian rhythm is dictated by light. Therefore, exposing your body to natural light will regulate your internal clock, helping you feel more awake during the day and sleep better at night.

Keep a journal

Anticipating a new member of the family can lead to more stress and anxiety, especially for first-time moms. Having a journal on the bed stand to jot down ideas, fears and reminders can aid in allowing the brain to shut down and can help you get back to sleep sooner. Spending a few minutes before bed either writing down or talking about those fears or worries will also help you to decompress and release some of those concerns. And it can replace those last few impulses to check your social media!

Be mindful of food and caffeine intake

It’s important to be mindful of what types of food as well as the portion size that is being consumed, especially before bed. By avoiding fast food, junk food, and foods that take a long time to digest as well as any food or drinks that contain caffeine, you can ensure that you’re not filling your stomach up with these hard-to-digest, gas-inducing foods right before bed.

Find comfortable sleep aids

There are great pillows and mattress toppers that can be purchased to help a mom get comfortable through the night. A mattress topper can ease some of the pressure off of your joints. Adding a couple of extra pillows or a full body pillow between your knees and arms as well as some nice, soft bedding can all help you relax, get comfortable and slip easily into sleep.

Take time through the day

Taking time through the day to put your feet up and relax, having a nap, attending a prenatal yoga class, going for a leisurely walk are all things that a mom can do to help diminish stress, anxiety and pain. Having time through the day designated as ‘mom time’ will also help you feel balanced and can positively influence your mental health.

Getting adequate sleep throughout pregnancy is essential for many reasons. The better rested a mother is, the better she will be able to handle labour and delivery. Her body will be stronger and more balanced as sleep has a great effect in diminishing stress hormones. Those same stress hormones can actually affect labour by extending or even delaying it.

Any time we are trying to help our body adjust to something new, it is important to remember that it does take time. Being consistent with the new routine, having patience and allowing your body to adapt will make all the difference when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep.