Sleeping during pregnancy can be a bit of a challenge. Your body is a different shape almost every day, it seems, while your breathing, digestion and circulation all feel like a struggle. With back pain, shortness of breath and heartburn all wreaking havoc with your system, it can sometimes feel like you never sleep well at all. You deserve better. Here are 10 amazing tricks to help you turn that pattern around and start getting the better sleep you deserve during pregnancy.
1. Try Different Sleep Positions
The truth is, it just isn’t possible to sleep the way you used to. If you’re a stomach sleeper, for instance, pregnancy may feel like a bit of a bummer. If you’re used to sleeping on your back, your belly will make it hard to breathe sooner rather than later. Instead of mourning this temporary loss of comfort, work with your new body by trying new positions. Sleep on your side with a pillow between your legs and another underneath your belly, if necessary. It’s even better to sleep on your left side, which increases blood flow to baby and placenta.
2. Support Your Belly with A Pregnancy Pillow
If sleeping with regular pillows just doesn’t cut it, you can also try a pregnancy pillow. They provide both back and belly support, and come in cute patterns and easy-to-use shapes. Place them in your bed, then fit your body around them. This will lessen back and joint pain during sleep and allow you to sleep more deeply.
3. Eat Nutritious Foods
Eating well is one of the best ways to sleep well when you’re pregnant (and, honestly, all the time). Protein-rich foods like poultry, eggs, dairy and peanut butter contain tryptophan, which helps you fall and stay asleep. Leafy greens and iron-rich vegetables fill you up and give your body the nutrients it needs to feed your baby and keep your joints healthy and pain-free. Need some additional tips? Check out these great dos and don’ts of pregnancy nutrition by best-selling author Frances Largeman-Roth.
4. Don’t Lie Down Right After Eating
Unfortunately, while eating often makes pregnant women tired, it’s not a good idea to go right to sleep after a meal. If you do, you run the risk of getting acid reflux and having to urinate. Instead, give yourself time to digest for at least two hours before lying down. This will help your body process the food you’ve eaten, and will also prevent you from needing to get right back up. If you find you have to have a snack before bed, try eating something you know doesn’t lead to heartburn or peeing, like peanut butter or yogurt.
5. Get Lots of Low-Impact Exercise
Lots of exercise can wear you out and help you sleep so much better. Keep in mind that in pregnancy, though, your joints may feel like they’re every which-a-where due to the effects of relaxin, a hormone that loosens your body up in preparation for labor and delivery. That makes it important to get only low-impact exercise, to avoid injury or strain, especially in the run-up to your due date. Try walking and yoga for sleep-inducing effects that won’t endanger your body.
6. Wear Supportive Clothing
Supportive clothing can make all the difference in how well you sleep. For instance, you might try the BLANQI maternity suppport collection, which offers support tanktops and belly bands to help you hold up that growing tummy. These garments stretch in multiple directions while offering comfortable, seamless support. Wear them during the day to alleviate pressure and prevent hip and back pain, which will help you sleep better at night. Or, if you like sleeping in supportwear, go ahead and keep it on at night as well.
7. Don’t Drink Fluids After a Certain Time
One of the most common complaints in pregnancy is “I have to pee, like, 10 times a night! It’s so annoying!” While you’re pregnant, the baby is pressing on your bladder, so unfortunately there’s only so much you can do to limit constant urination. However, if you want to pee less, give yourself a nightly cutoff. If you go to bed at 10, you might stop drinking at 8. Experiment with what works for you, and keep in mind that too much liquid can lead to heartburn as well as excessive urination.
8. Breathing/Relaxation Techniques
Sometimes pregnancy offers a healthy dose of anxiety, never fun when you’re trying to catch some shuteye. Breathing and relaxation techniques can help. Try inhaling to a count of four, waiting a beat, then exhaling to a count of six. You can also try counting sheep or imagining your childhood home or another “happy place” in as specific detail as possible.
9. Cultivate Serenity in the Bedroom
By now you’ve probably heard the advice that your bedroom should be used only for sex and sleeping. When you watch television, work on your laptop or otherwise engage with “waking” activities, you fail to teach your body that the bedroom is for sleep. Instead, remove electronics, bright lights (clocks, power strips) and devices from your bedroom. Cultivate a serene atmosphere that will help you fall asleep quickly and reliably.
10. Nap During the Day
Believe it or not, napping during the day is a very effective way to get better sleep during pregnancy. For one thing, you may simply need more sleep to survive, so napping is a great way to make up those necessary hours. For another, when you nap, you prevent your body from getting so exhausted you can’t fall asleep at night. It’s a cruel twist of physiology, but sometimes allowing yourself to become overtired leads to insomnia. Avoid that by snoozing where possible.
Sure, sleeping in pregnancy may never be as comfortable as sleeping without a little one inside you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t substantially improve the quality of your sleep. Try these tricks to make your nights more comfortable and more effective. It’s better for you and it’s better for baby, so don’t wait!