Why is Sleep Important?
Sleep is essential to help ensure we live a healthy existence. When we sleep our body recovers and re-energizes. When we do not get enough sleep it can cause us to feel irritable and have poor concentration, affecting our ability to preform simple everyday tasks.
Sleep is particularly important when we are pregnant. Not only does it give our body a rest but also aids in growth and development of your unborn child.
How Pregnancy Effects Sleep
A pregnant woman should be getting no less than 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Sounds easy?
Think again. Pregnancy can cause havoc on your normal sleep routine.
- Early on in the first trimester you may feel the need to urinate more often. This is due to the increased hormone levels and your placenta pressing down on the bladder.
- Your breasts may feel sore and tender due to a sudden growth spurt. Getting comfortable can be a challenge and it is advised to invest in a good maternity bra to help support and keep your breasts in place.
- You may feel hot and your skin irritable. This is due to an increased body temperature during pregnancy.
- You may find it hard to get comfortable in bed as your belly grows in size and your body aches.
- Sleeping on your side may not be your preferred position.
- Anxiety and stress may inhibit your ability to fall asleep.
- The quality of your sleep may be less than before you were pregnant.
- Having extra naps during the day may also affect your ability to sleep through the night.
- Heart burn can cause discomfort and affect your ability to sleep.
- Baby moving in your belly later on in the third trimester.
How Can I increase My Chances of a Better Nights Sleep?
Just like before you were pregnant it is important to get yourself into a routine. This routine may be similar or very different to the sleep routine you had before you were pregnant.
Experiment until you come up with a routine that works well for you. Be mindful that the routine may need to be altered slightly as you progress through your pregnancy.
1. Reduce Your Fluid Intake Before You go to Bed
It is important to drink plenty of water throughout your pregnancy to keep your body well hydrated and healthy.
Drink the majority of your water intake during the day and limit the amount of water you drink an hour before bed. This should give you time to empty your bladder sufficiently before your settle in for the night.
2. Eat Well
Eat a healthy well balanced diet that includes, vegetables, fruit, red meat, fish, chicken, dairy and carbohydrates. Be mindful of the amount of sugar you eat daily. Whilst sugar can give you an immediate high it can leave you feeling tired and lethargic later on.
Healthy foods will give you energy for longer and will also assist in growing a healthy baby.
3. Avoid Spice
Avoid eating too much spicy food. Large quantities too often can give you heartburn.
Keeping active is key. Regular exercise will engage your muscles keeping your body fit and strong. A healthy strong body will cope better with the growing pressures on your body and will also assist later on in labor.
5. Reduce Stress Levels
Avoid filling your mind with concerns and worries about your pregnancy and or labor. Talking to your loved ones or health care providers can put your mind at ease.
Remember that our bodies are designed to give birth and let nature take its course. Enrolling in yoga and or meditation classes as a great way to help reconnect with your body and breathing. Deep breathing is a wonderful way to distress and take time out.
6. Sleep in the Dark
Make sure that your bedroom is conducive to sleep. Block out any light to ensure the bedroom is dark and that you want to wake by an early morning sunrise.
Keep the room well ventilated and cool to avoid overheating.
Invest in some comfortable non-restrictive PJ’s. PJ’s made from natural fibers are best as they will allow the skin to breath. Choose fabrics such as bamboo, cotton or modal.
7. Use Pillows
Invest in some extra pillows to use as body supports as you sleep.
One pillow behind your back, one to rest your head and one between your legs is ideal.
You may even want to invest in a maternity pillow that has been specifically designed to support for sleep.
Take the time to write down your jobs for the next day on a to-do-list. This way you mind can be clear and free to sleep peacefully.
9. Remove Distractions
Remove devices such as your phone, computer and or TV’s from the bedroom. A bedroom should be a place of rest only.
10. Be Prepared
Have your hospital bag packed and ready to go, the route to the hospital tried and tested and your birth plan sorted will help to take a load of your mind.