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9 Steps to Sleeping Well During Pregnancy

If there’s one time in life when it is extremely important to sleep well, it is during pregnancy. Not only is it essential for the health of the mother-to-be, but it is crucial for the proper health and development of the baby.

Pregnancy, however, and sleep often don’t go together very well. In fact, according to the National Sleep Foundation, 78% of women report issues with sleep while they are expecting. During this time when women need the best sleep of their lives, they often struggle to get the rest they need.

Pregnancy and Sleeping Challenges

It sounds simple to tell expecting mothers to get more sleep, but there’s so much more to it than that. There are many complex things happening in a woman’s body that might affect sleep. One of the main issues is frequent waking due to the need to use the bathroom. In early pregnancy, high progesterone levels can increase the need to urinate, and then later in pregnancy the size of the uterus pushing on the bladder causes the same issue.

There are also plenty of concerns that keep a mother from falling asleep, or getting a deep, restful sleep. Increased hormone levels can cause insomnia. Body aches, nausea, and heartburn also make it difficult to get sleep. Restless leg syndrome and leg cramps can disrupt rest too. Many women experience snoring and sleep apnea for the first time during pregnancy.

But it’s not just physical issues that prevent rest during pregnancy. Many moms-to-be experience anxiety during this phase of life, which can make it hard to get to sleep, and stay asleep. Pregnancy hormones also contribute to extremely vivid dreams, which are often unsettling. Many women find it hard to fall back to sleep after experiencing one of these dreams. Many times they are odd or disturbing, and while completely normal, they can upset mothers to the point where sleep is not possible.

9 Steps to Sleeping Well During Pregnancy

Thankfully, expectant parents can take steps to contribute toward a more restful sleep. There are many things mothers can do to get the sleep she needs to ensure mom and baby stay healthy.

  1. Stick to a bedtime routine and schedule. Go to sleep at the same time each night, and perform the same bedtime rituals so your body knows it’s time to start getting sleepy. Brush your teeth, wash your face, and then spend a few minutes jotting a few notes in a journal. Years from now, you and your child will enjoy looking back on what life was like while you were expecting. Many moms find a warm bath before bed also helps them fall asleep.
  2. Avoid electronics for an hour or two before sleep. Backlit devices can trick the brain into thinking it’s morning, making it hard to fall asleep, so leave those emails, texts, and addictive games on the phone until morning.
  3. Cut down on fluids before bedtime. “What to Expect” suggests women consume 12 or 13¬† eight-ounce glasses of water each day, but women who are intentional about consuming most of that earlier in the day will have to get up less during the night to use the bathroom.
  4. Keep some crackers on the nightstand. Some women experience extreme nausea at night, or early in the morning. Others wake up with hunger pains and the munchies. A few crackers on the nightstand will alleviate both problems, without the need to get up and wander into the kitchen. Getting up, walking around, and turning on lights can make it harder to get back to sleep.
  5. Make time for exercise. Regular exercise will keep moms in shape, and can often result in easier deliveries. In addition, a daily workout can make it easier to fall asleep at night. Don’t exercise right before bed though, as that can make it harder to nod off. Always speak to your doctor about your exercise routine to make sure it is safe.
  6. Avoid heartburn triggers. There’s nothing worse than falling asleep, and sitting straight up a few minutes later with intense heartburn. To avoid this scenario, avoid eating acidic foods, like chocolate, coffee, or tomato-based products. Spicy and fried foods can also trigger heartburn. And try not to eat right before laying down. It’s always better to give the food a little time to digest before sleeping.
  7. Watch your diet. Consuming foods high in vitamins and nutrients will help your baby to develop well, but things like leafy greens and fortified grains provide the folate and iron to discourage restless leg syndrome and leg cramps.
  8. Take a nap whenever possible. Daytime sleepiness may be your body’s way of communicating its need for more rest. Take the time to lay down and get at least a short nap when you find yourself feeling tired, especially at the beginning and end of the pregnancy. Just don’t nap too long, which can start to interfere with nighttime rest.
  9. Get comfortable. It’s essential to have a mattress that supports your growing belly, and an older mattress will often cause expecting mothers to wake up more frequently and have more discomfort at night. A new, comfortable mattress will ensure you get the best rest possible. Also, using pillows to support the abdomen and legs will also help moms get their best rest. Pregnancy lasts 40 weeks, so don’t “make do” with old bedding that isn’t comfortable. If there’s ever a time to splurge on new bedding, this is it.

Another factor to consider when thinking about a new mattress is the environmental factors involved in mattress construction. Many mattresses are made of cotton and other materials that are heavily treated with pesticides. They are also treated with chemicals to meet government standards for flame-retardant bedding. Both of these can give off environmental toxins which may not be healthy for a pregnant mother to breathe. Investing in a new, healthy mattress made of natural materials will be a great choice for mom and baby.

If there’s nothing else that convinces expecting Moms to take these steps for a good night’s sleep, then a study by the National Institutes of Health might change their mind. They found that expectant women who slept less than 6 hours each night were more likely to experience a longer labor, and were 4.5 times more likely to require a cesarean delivery. For women with extremely disrupted sleep, the risk for cesarean was 5.2 times more likely. No mother wishes for a longer labor, or an unexpected surgery, so consider making sleep a priority during pregnancy.

It’s not necessarily easy to get a good night’s sleep during pregnancy. Between body changes and a moving baby, it can be hard to get the rest you need. But mothers who follow the steps above increase their chances of getting a good night’s rest, which will not only keep mother and baby healthy, but can also result in an easier delivery and recovery.

If your mattress is one of the things prohibiting you from getting a good night’s sleep, contact your local¬†Urban Mattress store. Whether you prefer a soft, plush mattress, or a firmer variety, we can help you find one that supports your body, relieves pressure, and encourages a good rest. You will be spending a lot of time in it during the 9 months of pregnancy and beyond, so it’s important to choose one that works well for you.