Martin Seeley, the CEO and sleep expert at MattressNextDay shares his Top Tips for sleeping whilst pregnant…
1. Sleep with a pillow between your legs to alleviate aches and pains
As your pregnancy progresses, you’ll find that pillows are more and more important to create a comfortable sleeping environment. In the final trimester, you’ll probably start to feel more aches and pains in the lower back so lots of support is vital. You should, therefore, put a pillow between your knees or under your bump which helps keep your spine aligned and relieve some of the pressure.
2. Stick to the same bedtime and wake-up time to prevent jetlag
Naturally, when you have a baby your everyday life becomes sporadic, however, it’s important to try and retain a regular sleep cycle before the baby arrives. You should aim to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, including weekends. Whilst waking up at 6:00 am one morning, and 8:00 am the following morning doesn’t seem like it would make that much of a difference if the irregularity continues, your internal body clock (known as your circadian rhythm) will be impacted and give you the same symptoms of jetlag.
3. Struggling from restless leg syndrome? Go for a walk to alleviate symptoms
It’s estimated that 1 in 4 women report symptoms of Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) during pregnancy, which is when you feel an overwhelming urge to move your legs. As symptoms are more noticeable in the third trimester, this makes it incredibly hard to fall asleep at a time when you should be trying to relax before the baby comes.
However, did you know that stretching your legs with a 10-minute walk on an afternoon can help alleviate RLS? On top of this, spending just 10 minutes outside in the sun can increase your circulation, lift your mood, and help you sleep better too.
4. Sleep on your left side
If you don’t already, try and change your sleeping position to your left side to improve blood flow to the foetus. Whatever you do, avoid sleeping on your back or stomach as this will put pressure on you and the baby.
5. Complete a breathing technique on the toilet to prevent bladder wakeups
Whilst you should aim to drink at least two litres of water throughout the day to help boost your energy, the same can’t be said for night-time. As your growing uterus puts pressure on your bladder, you’re likely heading to the toilet a lot more which can disrupt your sleep if woken up.
To prevent this, you should stop drinking any fluids for at least two hours before you go to bed and go to the toilet before going to sleep. You should ensure that you’re emptying your bladder fully. You can do this by leaning forward on the toilet and exhaling.
6. Avoid spicy food before bed to prevent heartburn
Many soon-to-be mums suffer from heartburn during their pregnancy. This is because the valve between your stomach and the tube leads to it relaxing during pregnancy due to hormonal changes. This allows your stomach acid to pass into the tube and cause a burning feeling. Unfortunately, this only gets worse in the later stages of pregnancy due to your growing uterus pressing on your stomach.
With this in mind, you should avoid eating spicy food and heavy meals just before your bedtime. You should also avoid salty food as this will encourage you to drink more before you go to bed, increasing your need to go to the toilet in the middle of the night.
7. Eat these snacks before bed to lessen your chances of morning sickness
If you do get peckish, pick an item that contains the amino acid, tryptophan, as this helps promote sleep. Some examples include oat biscuits, bananas and carrots to name a few.
On top of promoting a better night’s sleep, eating these foods can decrease your chances of having morning sickness, which can happen at any time of the day. Having an empty stomach can make you feel sicker, so eating small snack quantities of plain food will help.
8. Take a hot bath to reduce your stress levels
When you’re stressed, your body produces more of its stress hormone, otherwise known as cortisol. Annoyingly, the higher the cortisol levels get, the more awake you feel. So, if you’re struggling to switch off, consider having a hot bath.
You can make the environment extra peaceful by playing relaxing music, lighting a scented candle and using some Epsom bath salts to soothe your stressed-out muscles. You could even take it one step further and try out a breathing exercise to make your time in the bathtub even more relaxing.
9. Keep overheating? Run your wrists under water and place your pillowcase in the freezer
Due to hormonal changes and an increase in blood supply to your skin, it’s normal for you to feel hotter during pregnancy. This can, therefore, make it harder for you to fall asleep at night. However, there are a few simple hacks that can help you cool down.
Firstly, you can place your pillowcase in the freezer for 15 minutes before you plan on going to bed. You can also run your wrists under cold water for a few minutes before you go to bed, as this quickly cools your body down. Finally, sleeping naked is the fastest and easiest way of regulating your body temperature.
10. If you’re not getting enough sleep, nap but do it the right way
If you’re not getting enough rest at night, a nap can help reduce fatigue. However, did you know that there’s a right way to nap? Firstly, you should only sleep for up to 25 minutes as anything longer than 30 minutes can risk feeling groggy as your body will have entered a deep sleep cycle.
You should make sure to time your nap right. As your alertness naturally dips in the afternoon, you should pay attention to when you start to feel drowsy and nap straight away (if possible). Make sure this is more than 8 hours before your bedtime though, as it could impact your sleep if not.