As your abdomen grows in pregnancy and it’s no longer comfortable or safe to sleep on your stomach or back, you’ll begin to toss and turn, literally, as you sleep on your sides. Extended side sleeping can cause back, shoulder, hip, and even ear cartilage pain, which can disrupt your sleep and cause a rough start to your day. The good news is that there are steps and strategies you can take to improve your sleep during pregnancy. It won’t be like pre-pregnancy sleep, of course, but improved comfort and rest is possible.
Strategies for Better Sleep During Pregnancy
Proper Support: Sleeping on your sides puts added stress on your shoulder, hips, and lower back. Pregnancy pillows aren’t just a marketing gimmick, they help provide your body with the support and alignment it needs while sleeping during pregnancy. These long, cylindrical, U-shaped pillows help support your back, shoulder, abdomen, and help align your hips, all of which can greatly increase your comfort at night. Pregnancy pillows range between $30-$60 (some are more expensive), but many consider the relief it provides essential. Before buying new, ask around to see if a friend would be willing to loan theirs out. If you can’t afford or don’t want to purchase a pregnancy pillow, try positioning 4-5 regular pillows to help you achieve the same support and comfort. Try: one for your head, one for under your belly/rib cage, 1-2 between your legs and one to hug. For a visual, check out this video.
Your mattress can also impact how well you sleep during pregnancy (and when not pregnant!). For example, a firm mattress is not ideal for side sleeping. Of course, it’s not practical to go out and purchase a new mattress for the sake of pregnancy, but a mattress topper can make a big difference. Many people swear by the “memory foam” style mattress topper for good pregnancy comfort and support (I loved mine!). The special foam both conforms to and supports the right spots, greatly reducing aches in the morning.
Bathroom trips: Pregnancy makes you thirsty. Pregnancy also makes you pee more frequently. Ah, the vicious cycle! Staying hydrated is important for you and your baby’s health during pregnancy — don’t cut down on liquids to try and cut back on trips to the bathroom. Unfortunately, drinking less in the evening will not necessarily prevent you from waking during the night to urinate. That said, having your last big drink an hour before you sleep may help reduce the need to wake up and pee.
Adjust Your Bedtime: Pregnant or not, you should be getting 7-8 hours of sleep every night. But if you’re like many people, it’s more like 5-6 hours of sleep. Pregnancy is NOT the time for late nights and early mornings. Your body is working overtime to grow new life and it needs adequate time to rest and recover. Sleep deprivation won’t necessarily affect your baby, but it will affect you. Your bedtime is often one of the few things you can control during pregnancy. Subtract 7 or 8 hours from the time you need to be awake. Then, subtract an additional 45 minutes — 15 minutes for your bedtime hygiene routine and 30 minutes to unwind in bed and fall asleep. This is your new bedtime. Set a reminder on your phone if it helps. Start thinking about how you will get to bed on time when it’s late afternoon. You may need to adjust dinner time and cut back on the things you do around the house or out and about in the evening. Most things can wait!
What are you doing to achieve better sleep in pregnancy?