Simple Steps For Sleeping Well During Pregnancy
Getting a good night's sleep is always an important component of a healthy lifestyle, but an adequate amount of rest becomes even more critical during pregnancy. Pregnancy often brings on all sorts of sleep disturbances including nausea, heartburn, frequent urination, leg cramps, and snoring, plus bad sleeping habits from before you were pregnant can make these problems worse.
And considering that once your baby is born, your chances of having a restful night's sleep diminishes substantially, there are some helpful steps you can take to help ensure a better night's sleep – in pregnancy and beyond.
Just Say No To Smoking & Alcohol
It is common knowledge that cigarettes and alcohol are harmful to both you and your baby, but did you know that they can also negatively affect your ability to get a good night's sleep? Because nicotine is a stimulant, smokers tend to have less deep, restful sleep and feel less rested than nonsmokers. Conversely, alcohol, which is a depressant, can make you feel tired and make it easier to fall asleep, but in fact, disrupts your body's ability to get a deep, productive sleep and can actually make you feel more awake in the second half of the night.
Cut Down On Caffeine
Limit your consumption of food and drinks that contain caffeine such as coffee, tea, soda, and chocolate. But if you must have that cup of coffee or chocolate bar, it is best to avoid them in the late afternoon and evening. Also, if frequent trips to the bathroom are keeping you awake at night, try to drink more fluids early in the day and less in the evening.
Steer Clear Of Spicy Foods & Heavy Meals Before Bedtime
Spicy, acidic foods such as chili and tomatoes can cause heartburn and indigestion, as can eating a big meal right before bedtime. A good idea for those who suffer from heartburn is to eat lighter meals, and eat them earlier to give yourself two to three hours to properly digest your food before hitting the pillow.
A Snack A Day Keeps Morning Sickness Away
If nausea and morning sickness are keeping you from getting a good night's sleep, it is important to keep your stomach full during the night. Munching on a light, plain snack such as crackers or toast, especially before bedtime, can go a long way in curing those morning sickness blues.
Workout While It's Light Out
While exercise is important for both your health and the health of your baby, make sure to get in your workout program in early enough in the day to give your body enough time to wind down. Exercising too close to bedtime can leave your body revved up and disrupt your natural sleep cycle. Make sure to finish exercising at least three to four hours before you call it a night to ensure a restful, productive night's sleep.
Feeling Stressed? There's A Nap For That!
The National Sleep Foundation finds that more than 50% of pregnant women take a least one nap during the week and 60% take at least one nap during the weekend. Studies show that taking a 30-60 minute nap during the day makes you more alert, focused, sharpens memory, and generally reduces feelings of fatigue. Just make sure to time your naps carefully to avoid napping too long or too late in the day which can interfere with sleeping at night.
Take A Deep Breath & Relax
With all the stress that comes with being a new mother, staying relaxed and calm can be a daunting task. Establishing a regular, relaxing bedtime routine – such as reading or taking a bath before you call it a night – can go a long way in helping you achieve a restful night's sleep.
Yoga and stretching can also help you relax and unwind, in addition to help keeping you toned and flexible during pregnancy. Simple moves for gently stretching your neck, shoulders, calves, hamstrings, back and waist during the day and before bedtime can help relax your body, reduce stress, and make falling asleep easier.
Pregnant women often report feeling warmer than usual, so a good idea is to keep your room on the cool side to avoid overheating. Try to block out light and noise, too, which can easily disrupt your sleep.
Doctors also recommend expectant mothers learn to sleep on their left side, which helps blood and nutrients flow to the baby and uterus and helps the body eliminate waste and fluids. Getting your body acclimated to this position early in your pregnancy will help ease you into the process and improve your chances of a good night's sleep as your baby (and belly!) grows bigger.
Remember that, as with any major change to your body, sleeping while pregnant can take some getting used to. But the key is to relax, stay calm, and try to remain on a good sleep/wake schedule. If you wake up in the middle of the night, don't panic. Interrupted, sporadic sleep during pregnancy is perfectly natural. On the bright side, it will certainly get you nice and prepared for your next big challenge: parenthood!
[image via Baby Center]