Trouble Sleeping During Pregnancy
If you are currently experiencing the fatigue common in the first trimester of pregnancy, it may be hard to believe that as your pregnancy progresses, sleep may become more and more elusive. Getting enough sleep is important for pregnant women and sleep disturbances are not untreatable. Below, you will find some common causes and effective treatments for sleep problems during pregnancy.
What makes sleeping so difficult in the last two trimesters?
- Weight Gain – As you gain weight to support your baby's growth, it can become increasingly difficult to find a comfortable position to sleep in.
- Anxiety – It can also be difficult to slow down your thoughts down when you lay your head down on your pillow at night. With all the changes about to occur to your life once your little one arrives, it's easy to let worries keep you up way past your bedtime.
- Bathroom Trips – The amount of blood in your body has increased by almost 50%. Your kidneys need to work extra hard to filter this extra blood, which produces more urine than you are probably used to. Your growing baby can also press on your bladder, increasing your need to urinate, which sometimes interrupts your sleep.
- Leg Cramps and Backaches – Pregnancy hormones, such as progesterone and relaxin, which help prepare your body for labor and delivery by increasing the flexibility of ligaments, can also result in hip and leg pain which can interrupt your sleep. Also, your back may be hurting as your body adjusts its posture to compensate for your shifting center of gravity.
- Shortness of Breath – As your uterus grows to accommodate your growing baby, it may also be pressing on your diaphragm, making it difficult for you to breath and get a restful night of sleep.
- Heartburn – During pregnancy, digestion slows down resulting in heartburn, which can also keep you up at night and leave you tired during the day.
Good Sleep Hygiene
If it is becoming increasingly difficult for you to have a good night of sleep, here are a few tips to help you get the sleep you need!
- Sleep on your Side – Lying on your side with a pillow placed between your bent knees is the best position for your body. This position takes the pressure off your vena cava, the large vein that carries blood back to your heart from your lower limbs. This can help with swelling as well as knee and back pain. A pillow in front of your belly and behind your back may help keep you in this position all night.
- Keep a Routine – Getting in the habit of getting up at the same time every morning and going to bed at the same time every night, while avoiding unnecessary naps during the day, can do wonders.
- Cut out Caffeine – Caffeinated drinks should be consumed in moderation during pregnancy, regardless of your ability to sleep. However, if you are experiencing any trouble sleeping, you should consider cutting out all caffeine. Be sure not to forget hidden sources, like chocolate.
- Limit Bedroom Activities – Try to keep your activities in the bedroom limited to sleep and intimacy. Watching TV in the bedroom or catching up on some work before bed, in bed, may be causing your sleeping troubles.
- Avoid exercise close to bedtime – Vigorous physical activity an hour or two before bedtime can give you a burst of energy instead of tiring you out. Exercise early in the morning can boost your energy earlier in the day without interfering with your sleep at night.
- Avoid drinking a lot of fluids before bedtime – Extra fluids at bedtime may result in more bathroom trips in the middle of the night!
- Just breathe! – Meditation and other relaxation techniques, like focusing on your breathing, can help your mind and body slow down and prepare for sleep.
If you have tried everything, and you just can't seem to fall asleep, it may be helpful for you to get out of bed and move to another room. Instead of fighting to fall asleep for hours, switch your attention to something else, like reading a book in your favorite chair in the living room or finishing up a puzzle on the kitchen table until you feel tired. Once your eyes begin to feel heavy, head back to bed and you might just drift easily off to sleep!