Pregnancy is the beginning of exciting changes in your life and body. Unfortunately, each trimester comes with unique sleep challenges that you’ll need to address. We’ve laid out some sleep tips that are helpful during pregnancy and after along with a break down of the sleep challenges you’ll face in each trimester.
Sleep Tips for Anytime
A sleep-supportive bedroom should be dark and quiet. You might need blackout curtains or a white noise machine to reduce outside distractions. Pregnancy can also cause you to feel too hot so try to keep the temperature between 60 to 68 degrees.
Bedtime and Bedtime Routine
The human body loves consistency so try to keep a regular bedtime and create a relaxing bedtime routine for yourself. Meditation, gentle yoga, and a warm bath are a few ideas you might want to consider.
Turn Off Screens
Electronic screens emit a bright light that suppresses sleep hormones. Turn them off two to three hours before bed to stay on track for your bedtime.
Sleep Challenges by Trimester
Once you get pregnant, your progesterone levels skyrocket causing daytime sleepiness. Though the fetus is still small at this point, nighttime bathroom visits start because implantation puts extra pressure on the bladder. Additionally, you may experience pelvic pain and tender breasts that make it hard to get comfortable at night.
First Trimester Sleep Tips
- Nap: A short 15 to 30-minute nap won’t interfere with your sleep at night and can counteract the fatiguing effects of progesterone.
- Limit Your Afternoon Fluid Intake: Stop drinking fluids about four hours before bed to prevent nighttime disruptions. However, make sure you stay well hydrated the rest of the day.
- Address Morning Sickness: Morning sickness can strike any time, including bedtime. An empty stomach can aggravate symptoms so keep some crackers or pretzels on hand
In general, the second trimester is when you’ll have the easiest time sleeping because fatigue and morning sickness subside. You now enter the world of heartburn and leg cramps.
Second Trimester Sleep Tips
- Avoid Acidic and Spicy Foods: Acidic foods like lemons and tomatoes are common culprits of heartburn, but spicy foods can be triggers too. Watch your chocolate, caffeine, and carbonated beverage consumption as well.
- Stay Upright After Eating: If possible stay upright for four hours after eating to prevent sleep disruptions. You may need to sleep with a pillow behind your back to keep that upright position during the night.
- Stretch Leg Cramps: Your partner can help you stretch out leg cramps or you can use the wall. If you use the wall, make sure clear a path before bed so you don’t trip in the dark.
During the third trimester, leg cramps continue and the need to urinate increases due to the growing pressure on your bladder. Pelvic and back pain become a comfort issue at this point. Twenty percent of pregnant women also develop sleep disorders like restless leg syndrome and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). While restless leg syndrome will disappear after pregnancy and poses little risk to your baby, if you suspect OSA, characterized by loud snoring and pauses in your breathing, talk to your physician. The hormone surges that accompany OSA can be harmful to your baby.
Third Trimester Sleep Tips
- Reduce Nighttime Fluids: Reduce your fluid intake starting four hours before bed.
- Iron-rich Foods and Prenatal Vitamins: Restless leg syndrome has been linked to iron deficiency so make sure you’re taking your prenatal vitamins and increase your intake of iron-rich foods.
- Sleep on Your Left Side: Sleeping on your left side increases circulation to your baby and improves your breathing and circulation. You can also try sleeping with a pillow between your legs to reduce discomfort.
You might have to make some habit or schedule changes to get more sleep, but it’s worth it. Adequate sleep will allow your body to focus on the important work of growing another human being. We hope these sleep tips assist you during your pregnancy and beyond!