We talk a lot about ways to help get your baby to sleep, but the reality is that there are just as many challenges that can arise during your pregnancy, leading to many sleepless nights before your baby is even here!
Pregnancy tends to cause sleepiness during the day and sometimes insomnia at night, due to the shift in your hormones, inability to get comfortable, the need to urinate frequently at night, and a variety of other factors.
Kind of unfair, huh? Thankfully, there are many ways you can still prioritize rest during pregnancy, because after all, you are growing another human being inside of you, which is tiring!
1. Develop a bedtime routine.
Routines are not just important for our children, but they are also a way to help your body relax and prepare for rest, so start following one if you don’t currently! This can include things like dimming the lights, drinking non-caffeinated tea, reading a book, journaling, praying, or taking a warm shower.
2. Go to sleep within your natural sleepy window.
For most adults, this means between 8-9:30pm, but for you, it may be as early as 7:30pm! You are growing another life after all, so don’t feel guilty for going to sleep this early if you need to.
3. Take a nap during the day!
Studies show that a short 45 min-1 hour nap in the early afternoon can help you sleep better at night, especially during pregnancy. So, especially if you’re not getting enough night sleep, go ahead and take that siesta!
4. Hydrate and exercise.
Hydration and exercise play a big role in the health of you and your baby during pregnancy. Do your best to drink plenty of water throughout the day, but stop at about 7pm to avoid the need to constantly go to the bathroom throughout the night. Also, try doing light exercise in the early afternoon, as it can wake you up too much if it’s too late in the evening. Exercise also helps prevent leg cramps, which can be common in pregnancy, and temporarily relieves restless legs syndrome, which up to 15% of pregnant women experience during pregnancy. Other things that can help with RLS are wearing compression socks (but not while you’re sleeping), using a heating pad (again, not while actually sleeping), and increasing your iron intake with things like leafy greens and dried fruit.
5. Watch your nutrition to avoid heartburn and nausea.
It’s important, not just for your own health but for the health of your baby, to get a well-balanced diet and take a prenatal vitamin. We also recommend avoiding foods that are too spicy, citrusy, or sugary, as it can affect your quality of sleep or potentially cause heartburn. You can also help prevent heartburn by not laying down for 1-2 hours after meals.
If you’ve been suffering from nausea, try eating frequent, small meals, as keeping your stomach moderately full can help keep the nausea away. We have also had success with sucking on what we call “morning sickness candies.”
6. Get comfortable with pillows.
This is easier said than done with a growing belly, but there are ways you can get more comfortable during sleep by using a pillow between your legs, behind your back, or under your belly. This is where pregnancy pillows can be so helpful!
One of our favorite pregnancy pillows is Belly Bandit’s S.O.S. (Sleep-On-Side) pillow. This pillow is fantastic if you’re looking for something smaller and more compact that won’t take up a large part of your bed or storage space. It simply has two small parts to it - one part to support your back as you sleep on your side, and another to support your growing tummy.