Whether your body aches are boundless, you’ve been riddled with insomnia or your partner’s snoring could overshadow a 36-piece orchestra, sleep doesn’t tend to come as easy or be as restful when you’re pregnant. Ironically, your body needs it now more than ever. So, what can you do to help yourself rest easier at night and enhance the quality of your sleep?
During pregnancy, your body needs as much shut-eye as it can get. Not only is your body working twice as hard to nurture the growing foetus, but you’re also preparing for labour, the aftermath and the demands of caring for your newborn. Though your sleep tends to be lighter and less refreshing when you’re pregnant, it’s vital to try and get as much sleep as possible before your little one arrives.
Develop a relaxing bedtime routine
By establishing a soothing bedtime routine, you can help your body understand when it’s time to relax and prepare for sleep. Before the clock strikes bedtime, try a few relaxing rituals to determine which suit you best:
- Drink a warm cup of milk with honey or a small cup of caffeine-free tea.
- If you feel peckish, have a light snack, like a handful of nuts or a few crackers.
- Read a chapter or a few pages of a book.
- Take a warm shower to soothe any aching muscles and loosen up stiffness.
- Ask your partner for a gentle massage to help relax your body.
Avoid electronics at least an hour before bed
Exposure to blue light can drastically affect your body’s ability to fall asleep. Looking at your phone, laptop or TV screen before bed can fool your body into thinking it’s daytime by suppressing the release of the body’s sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin, which can then interfere with your natural internal clock. While you might feel inclined to go reading about pregnancy symptoms or worse, scary labour stories, avoid picking up electronics for at least one hour before lights out to help prepare your brain and body for sleep.
Time your dinner
Though tempting, steer clear of those late-night dinners and midnight fridge-rummages. Too much food too close to bedtime can increase your body temperature and forces your stomach to digest instead of slowing down, which can significantly disrupt your sleep. Eat a healthy, filling dinner early in the evening to prevent those late-night cravings and 2am hunger pains. If you feel peckish later on, indulge in a light snack an hour or two before settling down, so your body has time to digest before bed.
Be active during the day
Exercise is an excellent way to help you sleep more deeply when pregnant. So long as your doctor or medical professional approves, simple activities like walking or at-home pregnancy yoga can improve both your physical and mental health. Some light exercise during the day can help to release any pent-up energy, improve circulation and help you fall asleep easier at night. However, avoid any vigorous exercise too close to lights out, as this can also affect your ability to fall sleep.
Revel in relaxation techniques
Indulging in methods of relaxation can help you calm your mind and relax your muscles. This may include light stretching, massage therapy, deep breathing, meditation, or taking a warm bath or shower. Find the technique that works best for you and stick to it, maintaining this routine every night to help your body understand when it’s time to sleep.
If you’ve surrounded yourself with pillows, tried all of the above and sleep still doesn’t come, don’t wait for it. After 20 to 40 minutes (depending on how restless you become), hop out of bed and try encouraging your body to relax with some reading, writing or light chores, like paying a bill or jotting down your to-dos for tomorrow. You might just become tired enough to get the rest you need.