Ahh, the joys of pregnancy. Nausea, hormones, cramping and a never-ending need for the toilet can all seriously interrupt your precious eight-hours of shut-eye. And, if you dare to complain about it, all you hear is a well-meaning chorus of, “Just wait until the baby gets here, then you’ll know about sleepless nights.”
But before you throttle anybody, there are ways to tackle sleep problems during pregnancy. Here's 5 top tips to help you get the best sleep possible:
1. Find the right sleeping position for pregnancy
Getting comfortable is key to a great night’s sleep. Sleep on your side (ideally your left) – it’s the best pregnancy sleep position for you and your baby as it maintains your circulation and promotes a more peaceful night.
Use pillows to support yourself and help you sleep. Place one between your knees to keep your spine in line – this can reduce sciatic nerve pain. In the third trimester, a pillow under your tummy can provide some much-needed support.
Top tip: Usually sleep on your back? Prop up some pillows behind you to keep yourself upright and help reduce shortness of breath.
2. Watch what you eat
Acid reflux and heartburn are common in pregnancy because your growing womb can press on your stomach. Eat small portions more regularly, instead of large meals. Heartburn gets worse when you lie down, so stop eating at least three hours before bed.
Another organ that feels the squeeze during pregnancy is your bladder. Excessive night-time toilet trips are a common cause of sleep disturbance. Stay hydrated (without keeping yourself awake all night) by drinking more water in the morning, then gradually reduce your intake to small sips from mid-afternoon onwards.
3. Clear your mind
The imminent arrival of your new baby is bound to send your mind into overdrive, but running through baby names and birthing plans at night can stop you getting the sleep you need. Practice mindfulness by allowing your thoughts to gently come and go, while focusing on your breathing. Can’t shake your worries?
Talk your problems through with someone. It moves your thoughts to the rational part of your brain, which helps you tackle them logically and gets your sleep back on track.
4. Get into a good sleep routine
Prioritising your sleep will help you cope with the increasing energy demands of being pregnant. Just like your newborn, getting yourself into a good wind-down routine is vital. Spend the last two hours before bed reading a book, listening to music, watching TV or pottering around. Switch off your electronic devices half an hour before bed and dim the lights to tell your internal body clock that it’s time for sleep.
Top tip: Beat tiredness and the risk of pregnancy insomnia by waking and going to bed at the same time each night.
5. Let go of the struggle
Remember that sleep is a biological process that can’t be controlled – the more you battle against your pregnancy sleep problems, the worse they’ll become. Don’t be afraid to nap in the day. Just keep it to 30 minutes between midday and 3pm. Understand that this is a unique time for your body, and simply resting in bed is better than worrying yourself awake.