Sleep is an essential ingredient in our survival. It allows the body and brain to rest and repair, helps strengthen memory, regulates hormones and weight, and reduces the likelihood of chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Add pregnancy to the mix, and you’re not just sleeping for your own health anymore. You’re now “sleeping for two”!
Sleep: Just What You and Your Baby Need
In addition to the well-known benefits of sleep, getting enough rest while you’re pregnant has six additional advantages.
- Maintains good mental health
- Keeps progesterone levels stable
- Increases growth hormones required by the placenta
- Reduces the chances of premature birth and low birth weight
- Reduces labour time and chances of unelective c-section
- Reduces the risk of high blood pressure and pre-ecamplsia
The Challenge of Sleepy Time
The stress of our daily lives sometimes makes it difficult to grab some decent shut-eye, but research has shown that up to 80% of pregnant women experience some form of insomnia during their pregnancy.
The first and third trimesters are usually the biggest culprits, with hormone swings and morning sickness being responsible in the first three months. Towards the end of your pregnancy, your baby is more active, and you’ll experience more physical discomfort which plays a large role in your inability to rest adequately.
How to Get the Rest You Need
Here are Mom2B’s® top tips on getting a good night’s sleep:
Don’t Go to Bed Too Early
Falling asleep is half the battle, so if you find that you’re not able to get to sleep soon after getting into bed, try staying up a little later, as this will increase your body’s desire to find sleep.
Be Strategic About Your Naps
If you’re suffering from insomnia at night, a nap might sound like a good idea. But according to research, a daytime nap might be doing more harm than good.
The rules are slightly different for pregnant women, as rest is a vital aspect of keeping yourself and your baby healthy. Scientists recommend taking a nap between 13:00 and 15:00 in the afternoon, as this falls into your body’s circadium rhythm. Any time later than 15:00, however, could disrupt your sleep cycle and should be avoided.
Lunchtime naps not possible? Why not go for a leisurely stroll instead? Research has shown that walking helps ease tension, and is therefore a good alternative to a quick midday snooze.
Watch what you eat and drink before bed
Food and drink can contribute substantially to a good night’s rest, and normal rules, with a few extra considerations, would apply here.
When it comes to liquids, avoid – or eliminate – caffeine. Drinking water is a must, but be aware of how much you consume before bedtime – especially in the third trimester when an active baby can affect your bladder.
Heavy meals close to bedtime are a no-no for everyone, as are spicy and acid foods that can cause heartburn and indigestion: it’s better to eat a light dinner at least 3 hours before you turn off the light. Be aware, however, that an empty stomach can contribute to morning sickness – eating a small, healthy snack shortly before bed can help alleviate this.
Not being able to get enough sleep for a few nights can leave you feeling frustrated and tired, but chronic insomnia can lead to anxiety and depression which is bad for both you and your baby. If you have taken steps to creating a relaxed environment and encouraging a restful night by following the steps above, we recommend speaking to your health care provider to find out whether there is an underlying condition.
Disclaimer: Remember, if you are ever unsure of anything please seek the advice of a healthcare practitioner.