Sleep is a crucial part of one’s health and well-being, especially during pregnancy! According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, sleep plays a vital part in our brain function and physical health. The harm from not getting enough sleep can happen instantly, such as a car accident, or over time, such as developing chronic health issues.
Getting good, quality sleep is incredibly important during pregnancy! While it can eventually get uncomfortable to find a cozy sleep position in the late stages of pregnancy, it can be done. Getting ample sleep is important for both mom, and baby. Psychology Today notes a study done by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center that found that poor sleep and depression were both associated with increased risk for birth complications when found separately and together.
We want to help women get the best quality of sleep possible throughout their pregnancy, so we have researched and gathered 10 important sleeping tips during pregnancy. Read on to find out how to get the best sleep for both you and baby!
1. Pillows are your friend.
Pillows can be a great resource and tool to an expectant mother. Not only can they help cushion the lumbar spine when experiencing back pain, they can also help moms find a better sleep position. Sleep.org recommends experimenting sleep positions with extra pillows you already have around the house, before investing in an expensive pregnancy pillow. Many women find a great deal of relief by sliding a pillow under their growing bump, and one in between their knees when sleeping on their side.
2. Sleep on your left side.
It’s no secret that it can be difficult to find a comfortable sleeping position when pregnant. The experts from the American Pregnancy Association recommend keeping “SOS” in mind when trying to get comfortable. SOS stands for sleep on side, preferably, your left side. Sleeping on your left side increases the amount of blood and nutrients the placenta and baby receive.
3. Ditch your screen.
Screen time makes it difficult for anyone, to fall asleep, not just pregnant women. Why? Because it keeps our brains stimulated by increasing its electrical activity, making its neurons race, and diverting your mind from reaching a tranquil place. If you are taking the time before bed to respond to work emails, compare your life to your friend’s life on Instagram, or even just to watch a video, your body will produce the stress hormone, cortisol. This makes it incredibly difficult for your body to relax and sleep.
According to an article in The Huffington Post, “Harvard Medical School scientists concur that specific wavelengths of light suppress the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin in the brain. The National Sleep Foundation in Arlington, Va surveyed 1500 randomly selected adults in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Germany, Britain, and Japan showing that at least two-thirds of those people who watched TV in the hour before bed didn’t get a good night’s sleep on work nights. The circadian clock, the body’s biological time keeper that is synchronized to the 24-hour day is thrown off by this interference with the light -dark cycle. This light exposure delays the melatonin that should surge forward.” Ditch any sort of screen time at least thirty minutes before bed in order to achieve better quality sleep!
4. Keep moving!
Did you know that regular exercise can help you get a good night’s sleep? Exercising when pregnant is great for both mom and baby. It is also great for sleep! According to Charlene Gamaldo, M.D., medical director of Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep at Howard County General Hospital, there is “solid evidence that exercise does, in fact, help you fall asleep more quickly and improves sleep quality.” So take yourself and baby to the gym or for a walk – it will help you get better rest!
5. Establish a bedtime routine.
Sticking to a sleep schedule is another great way to get more sleep during pregnancy. The Mayo Clinic recommends trying to get 8 hours of sleep each night. To do this, it is helpful to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends. This helps train your body into a sleep cycle. If you have tried for more than 20 minutes to fall asleep, they suggest leaving the bedroom and reading a book, listening to calming music, and trying again soon.
6. Get adjusted.
Chiropractic care during pregnancy can be a powerful tool to help increase the quality of sleep. Many expectant mothers suffer from low back pain throughout their pregnancy, due to the added stress on the spine. A doctor of chiropractic can help relieve this stress through specific spinal adjustments. These adjustments not only alleviate back pain, but they also help the entire body relax. Healthline.com even states that apart from reducing back and sciatic nerve pain, chiropractic care can make you more comfortable, control symptoms of nausea, and help you achieve better sleep throughout pregnancy.
7. Turn down the temperature.
Expectant mothers often have a slightly elevated body temperature. This often peaks in the evening, for expectant women and everyone else. When you feel too hot, it makes it difficult to fall asleep. The Sleep Council states that temperatures more than 71 degrees fahrenheit and below 53 degrees fahrenheit are likely to cause restlessness. The ideal temperature for sleep is anywhere between 60 and 65 degrees fahrenheit for adults. Children and older adults may need it slightly warmer.
8. Drink plenty of fluids during the day.
It is very important for a pregnant woman to consume a lot of fluids during the day in order to stay hydrated and well. The National Sleep Foundation recommends drinking your fluids early on and cut back on consumption before bedtime. This can help you stay asleep longer, without the middle of the night and early morning walk to the bathroom.
9. Minimize the bedroom distractions.
Grace Pien, M.D., a sleep researcher at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Sleep and Respiratory Neurobiology, states that, “The bedroom is for sleep and sex.” She suggests removing any TVs, computers, cell phones, or anything else that has nothing to two with the two aforementioned activities. By simplifying the bedroom, your mind has less to distract it from sleep.
10. Elevate your head.
Heartburn is a common complaint of many women throughout pregnancy, especially in the evening. In order to combat this, The Mayo Clinic recommends elevating the head of your bed. This can help prevent, or decrease, heartburn and snoring!