Sleep plays an important part in maintaining the well-being of a person. Getting sufficient quality sleep at night helps a person to ensure physical health, mental health, and a good quality of life. When pregnant, needless to say, adequate sleep becomes all the more relevant. Proper sleep is required to ensure a healthy pregnancy. It also ensures that the unborn baby grows in a healthy atmosphere. Improper sleep or lack of sleep can have a negative effect on a pregnancy.
Sleep helps to clear the human neurological database. This allows us to think better. It also helps to enhance immunity levels, mood, and the functioning of the brain. Sleep also boosts the growth hormone. This helps the growth of the placenta and the uterus. All this helps in the healthy growth and development of the fetus.
Sleeping during pregnancy is not easy since normal sleeping positions may not work for a pregnant woman. Pregnancy can affect sleeping patterns. Pregnant women should avoid sleeping on their back, sleeping on their stomach, and side sleeping will also be uncomfortable at times due to the growing belly. Also, during pregnancy, the body undergoes a number of changes and these changes also tend to affect a sleep routine. Pregnant women may find it difficult to sleep due to the growing abdomen, back pain, stress, breathlessness, heartburn, and insomnia.
Here, we look at some of the important sleep safety facts that can help pregnant women to sleep safely and peacefully through their pregnancy.
15 Have a Bath Before Going to Bed
Do you enjoy splashing water by lying in your bath tab? Spending some time in your bathtub before going to bed is good for getting sound sleep during your pregnancy. Studies have proven that sliding in your bathtub and playing around for some time helps in getting a good sleep. Be careful not to slip and fall when getting in or out of the bathtub as your center of gravity may shift during pregnancy. This may throw your balance off.
You need to use water at room temperature or warm water for bathing, as hot water can cause vasoconstriction. Vasoconstriction can cause a miscarriage. According to the specialists at the Organization of Teratology Information, during early pregnancy, a body temperature of 101 degrees Fahrenheit or more can result in defects of the neural tube. Just 10 minutes in the hot bathtub can increase your body temperature to 102 degrees Fahrenheit.
14 Say No to Long Daytime Naps
Most pregnant women experience fragmented, disturbed, and shortened nocturnal sleep. This is due to physiological adaptations occurring in the body. So, daytime naps are something every pregnant woman enjoys. During the first trimester, most women love to take long naps during the daytime. The problem with a long daytime nap is that it will increase the risk of having less sleep during the night time, which is not good for the health.
The relation between nocturnal sleep and daytime naps in pregnant women has not been understood clearly. However, short daytime naps help to improve mood, cognitive functioning, and short-term memory. But, researchers have pointed out that it is better to avoid long naps during the daytime. Keeping yourself engaged during the daytime helps in getting a good sleep during the night. Insufficient quantity during the night will cause mood dysregulation, and increase the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes.
13 Enroll Yourself in a Class
Women are generally anxious about pregnancy and related issues. There will be several thoughts that can disturb your mind and cause sleeping problems. Enrolling yourself in a class about pregnancy and delivery can help your relax. Fear of the unknown is always high. When you know what to expect and what changes are going to happen to your body, you will be more relaxed.
Enrolling yourself for a class from experts about delivery and baby care can help you to relax and enjoy the nine long months. You will also get to meet other moms-to-be like you with whom you can share your experiences and get their suggestions, too. Most doctors ask moms-to-be to undergo some classes and read various books on pregnancy and baby care to keep the mind free from tension. A relaxed mind is essential for getting sleep, which is necessary for the mother and baby’s health.
12 Avoid Late Night Workouts
Workouts are good during pregnancy. Vigorous exercise in the evenings, however, can be harmful, especially when you are pregnant. It can rob you of your nocturnal sleep. Melatonin is produced after sunset. Melatonin helps in slowing down your brain and making you drowsy. During night, the level of melatonin increases. But if you start exercising late in the evening, it can impact the production of melatonin. This will affect your sleep cycle.
Doing exercise early in the day helps your body to recover and wind down after the workout. It is always better to complete your regular exercise at least 3 to 4 hours before going to the bed. But, if you are having pain in your back or legs, gentle stretches before bed will help you in overcoming the pain and getting a good sleep during the night. You should also practice relaxation techniques to sleep better.
11 Avoid Spicy Food
Research has proven that spicy food is not harmful to your baby. In fact, it can help the baby to develop a taste for spices later in life. Even though spicy food may not harm your baby during pregnancy, it can cause a lot of discomfort for you. During your pregnancy, it is best to avoid spicy food. Spicy food can create heartburn and digestive problems, which can disturb your sleep and also create uneasiness.
Avoiding foods, like fried and acidic items, can help in getting safe sleep during the night. Those who have the habit of drinking coffee, cola, chocolate, and tea need to cut down. Such drinks decrease the amount of calcium you can metabolize. Taking coffee and tea after 7 p.m. can cause sleeping problems due to the caffeine content. The intake of spicy food can also increase morning sickness in some pregnant women.
10 Avoid Sleeping on Your Back
If you are pregnant, you should avoid sleeping on your back after the first trimester. If you lie on your back, the enlarged uterus with your baby presses against the vein that takes blood back from the lower part of your body to your heart. This can restrain the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the baby as the blood supply to the placenta decreases. This can lead to problems like low blood pressure, backaches, breathing difficulty, hemorrhoids, problems to the digestive system, and edema.
Lying on your back for long periods can consequently make you feel dizzy and faint. You may toss and turn at night if you lie on your back for a short time. Do not worry about that. It is only when you lie on your back for a long period that the flow of blood to the placenta and your baby is affected.
9 Avoid Sleeping on Your Stomach
You can sleep in pretty much any position that you are comfortable in during your pregnancy. As your pregnancy advances, your abdomen goes through a series of physical changes. Most probably, during the advanced stages of pregnancy, you will find it difficult to sleep on your tummy. Obviously, it is not a good practice to sleep on your stomach after the 20th week of pregnancy.
When you sleep on your belly, the stomach presses on your expanding uterus. This can be uncomfortable for your baby and affect the circulation. It can also put a lot of pressure on your baby. But, in case you wake up on your tummy one day, do not worry or panic; no harm will occur to your baby. If you have the habit of sleeping on your stomach, you can use a donut-shaped pillow to support your growing stomach and sleep safely and comfortably.
8 Sleeping on Your Side is the Safest Position
It is safe and comfortable to sleep on one side as your pregnancy progresses. Lying on the right side is always a better option than sleeping on your front or back during the final stages of your pregnancy. But, according to doctors and midwives, sleeping on your left side is said to be the best bedtime bet. Sleeping on one side reduces the pressure on the uterus and enables you to breathe well. It also reduces the tendency of backaches.
Sleeping on your left side does not restrict blood flow. It enhances circulation and increases the amount of nutrient-rich blood and oxygen that flows from your heart towards the placenta to nourish your baby. It also helps your growing body weight from exerting pressure on your liver. Even if you sleep on your left side, you may end waking up on your right side in the early morning. You don’t have to worry in that case.
7 Say No to Late Night Heavy Snacks
Eating heavy snacks less than two hours before bedtime can lead to problems with digestion. During pregnancy, digestion takes more time. This can cause heartburn or stomach reflux due to the increase in acidity. This can keep you awake, restless, and uncomfortable during the night. It is not healthy to eat heavy snacks at night during pregnancy (or any other time really!).
How can you handle the late night hunger pangs? Occasional light snacks to satisfy your late night cravings can help satisfy your hunger. At the same time, it will ensure a safer sleep. If you are hungry, you can have some healthy sweet or savory snacks occasionally. If you like something salty and crunchy, choose nuts or popcorn. If you crave a sweet snack, have some fruits like strawberries, banana, or some other berries. Avoid heavy snacks. Always eat snacks that will supply more nutrients to your growing baby.
6 Support Your Belly and Back With a Pillow
Are you not able to sleep comfortably during the night? Do you have a pain in your back and legs? If you are someone who has the habit of tossing and turning during the night and you are worried about how it will affect your pregnancy, it is time to use pregnancy pillows. Pillows, if placed correctly, offer support to your back, stomach, hips, legs, and knees, and thus, help you sleep.
To sleep safely and comfortably, you can prop a pillow below your hip and another pillow under your chest. This cradles your tummy between the two pillows. You can keep your legs and knees bent and position a pillow between your knees. You can also use a pillow to prop your head and upper body up slightly. When you do this, the body position puts less pressure on your diaphragm. You can adjust the position and size of the pregnancy pillow to suit you as your pregnancy progresses.
5 Adjust the Room Temperature
Do you feel excessively hot while sleeping? Do not worry. This is normal during pregnancy. The amount of blood flowing within your body at about eight months can be almost double the flow during the pre-pregnancy period. Your basic metabolic rate increases by about 20 percent during your pregnancy. Due to this, the body temperature increases during pregnancy, you may be feeling hot and restless all the time.
So, adjust the thermostat to bring down the temperature of your room to a comfortable level. It is best to set the temperature to a level that is slightly lower than what you usually do. Drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated. Wear light clothing. Eat fruits that help cool your body. This ensures you will have a restful night of sleep. The comfort level of your room temperature affects the quality of your sleep.
4 Reduce Liquid Intake in the Evening
Do you visit the toilet frequently during the night? The frequent urge for urination is one common problem faced during pregnancy. At night, this can affect your sleep. During pregnancy, as the baby grows, the uterus expands and the baby reaches the lower portion of the pelvis. This increases the pressure on your bladder and the urge to urinate increases at night. Due to this, you cannot sleep uninterruptedly.
To avoid frequent trips to the toilet at night, you should reduce the intake of fluids at least two hours before you go to sleep. Instead, drink more fluids during the day. Also, whenever you urinate you should lift your belly and lean forward so that your bladder is emptied completely. Avoid beverages like tea, coffee, and alcohol that increase your urge to pee. Do Kegel exercises about three times a day to gain control over your urethra. This will help keep urine from escaping at unfortunate times.
3 Switch off the Lights
It is important that you switch off the lights and any other electronic devices that emit light when you sleep. Our body is biologically wired to sleep when it is dark and wake up when it is bright and sunny. During pregnancy, it becomes more relevant to ensure that you sleep safely and peacefully. Keep your room dark and silent. Sleeping in a dark room ensures that a mom-to-be gets a deep, restful sleep at night.
Creating darkness in the room while sleeping helps to produce enough melatonin, which helps to feel and fall asleep fast. Avoid lights from cell phones, smartphones, iPads, alarm clocks, laptops, computer monitors, and other devices that can contribute to the brain forming new thoughts or schedules, delaying sleep. Light in your room can delay the release of hormones that induce sleep. Light also stimulates the brain and delays sleep. Keep the curtains in the room closed to create a congenial sleep atmosphere.
2 Sleep on a Comfortable Bed During Pregnancy
Staying comfortable on your bed can prove to be a big challenge during pregnancy. No matter how much you try, you just can’t get comfortable in bed. You keep on tossing and turning from one side to the other. You may be suffering from pain in your back and leg cramps. Your spine feels the pressure exerted by the growing baby.
You can use a soft egg crate foam mattress pad over your mattress and under the sheet to get more support if your hips are hurting you when you sleep on your side. They are available in a range of sizes. Some moms-to-be may feel comfortable sleeping on an air mattress. You should choose a surface that you are comfortable sleeping on so that you find some relief. You can sleep on a couch, a reclining chair, or any soft surface that puts you to sleep without problems.
1 Avoid Stress and Exercise Regularly for Safe Sleep
Exercise during pregnancy is important but you should exercise early in the day. Exercise will stretch and strengthen the muscles which will help your body to overcome the problems caused by pregnancy. It will help you to prepare better for labor and birth. It will also increase your energy and fend off pregnancy blues. It also helps to maintain a healthy body weight and feel positive about your changing body.
Learning relaxation and sleep-inducing techniques can help in avoiding stress and anxiety, avoiding depression, and keeping your mind calm. Deep breathing and muscle relaxation exercises can be included in your daily exercise pattern to keep your body and mind in a relaxed state. Physical exercise early in the day will help to promote sound sleep. Regular exercise will help to carry the weight gained by the body during pregnancy. It will also make it easy to lose weight after the baby is born.