Women can experience sleep problems in all three trimesters of pregnancy. However, conditions like insomnia and sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) are common in the first and third trimesters. Common causes of disturbed sleep during pregnancy are fluctuating hormones, frequent bathroom visits at night, nasal congestion, digestive issues, and heartburn.
Sleep enhances your central nervous system (CNS) and immune functions, and it is especially crucial during pregnancy to regulate hormones. Proper sleep at night plays a key role in fetal development and growth, making it a high priority for pregnant women. In this post, we will talk about getting the best night’s sleep during pregnancy. Read on!
Create a Bedtime Routine
A comforting, soothing, and consistent evening routine can help you feel relaxed and sleep easily at night. For instance, drink a cup of warm milk with honey or caffeine-free tea to relax your mind. Opt for a small snack and try whole-grain cereal with skim milk, a few crackers, or a handful of nuts.
These food items are rich sources of carbohydrates and essential nutrients like tryptophan that encourage melatonin development to promote sleep. Don’t forget to take a warm shower 30-60 minutes before bedtime. Gently brush your hair or get a shoulder massage to soothe your muscles.
Get Some Exercise
Although many pregnant women find it difficult to carry out physical activities or exercise, it can bring a lot of benefits. For instance, exercise increases blood flow to all body organs, including the brain.
The oxygenated blood interacts with your neurons to reduce cortisol levels and release other chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and melatonin that produce analgesic feelings and promote sleep.
We are not talking about high-intensity exercises. A gentle walk for 20-30 minutes in the evening is enough to improve circulation and reduce leg cramps at night. Research shows that active pregnant women tend to sleep sound at nighttime.
Stick to low-impact exercises 2-3 hours before bedtime. Pilates, yoga stretches, with deep breathing are great options. Not only does exercise strengthen your muscles, but it also increases blood circulation to different organs, including the placenta.
Cope with Your Stress and Anxiety
Hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy can cause a lot of physical and mental changes in your body. Stress, depression, and anxiety during pregnancy are common conditions that can prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep.
If you worry about anything, make sure you release your tension by talking to your partner or a professional who can advise you to cope with stress and anxiety. You can also keep a notebook on the table to unload your worries before going to bed.
Invest in a Pregnancy Body Pillow
Health professionals recommend pregnant women to sleep on their left side to increase blood flow to the kidneys, uterus, and fetus. This, in particular, becomes important in the second trimester or when your pregnancy is 20 weeks old. However, most pregnant women find it difficult to stay comfortable sleeping on their left side.
Trying using special and extra-long pregnancy pillows to support your body and keep your muscles relaxed. You can also use regular pillows to build a small wall that will help you roll onto your side. Place one medium-size pillow underneath your legs to soothe your lower body muscles. It is an excellent way to tranquil your body and triggers sleep hormones, including melatonin.
Keep Heartburn at Bay
Heartburn is a common medical condition during pregnancy. Hormonal changes relax your stomach valve and push the acid upward to the esophagus, causing acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux (GER) that can affect your sleep at night.
The question is: how to avoid heartburn and promote a good night’s sleep? A growing body of research evidence shows that women can prevent heartburn during pregnancy by avoiding to recline for 1-2 hours after a meal.
You can also prevent heartburn by keeping your head elevated on pillows during the night. Make sure you don’t eat fried, spicy food items, including acidic foods that contain tomatoes. That way, you can ease symptoms of heartburn, feel calm, and get good sleep.
Proper sleep for at least eight hours at night is imperative for pregnant women. It reduces stress, relaxes muscles, increases blood circulation, maintains metabolism, upkeep homeostatic levels, and produces analgesic effects – all of which are important for adequate sleep at night.