The hormonal changes and physical discomfort associated with pregnancy can affect a woman's quality of sleep. Each trimester brings its own unique changes, including changes in sleep.
The National Sleep Foundation offers the following most common reasons why sleep patterns change throughout your pregnancy:
- You might wake more frequently to empty your bladder.
- Heartburn, nausea, leg cramps, and sinus congestion may be problems.
- Physical and emotional changes are occurring in your life.
- You might feel very sleepy during some periods of the day as a result of disturbed sleep, and as a side effect of increased levels of the hormone progesterone.
- You might feel uncomfortable in general as your belly increases in size and your weight increases.
Getting enough sleep during pregnancy
If your sleep disturbances are severe, do not hesitate to ask your doctor to help you find solutions that will work for you. One or more of the following might help you get the sleep you need during pregnancy:
Pillows: Pillows can be used to support both the abdomen and back. A pillow between the legs can help support the lower back and make sleeping on your side easier. Some specific types of pillows include the wedge-shaped pillow and the full-length body pillow. It is recommended to sleep on your side.
Nutrition: Drinking a glass of warm milk might help bring on sleep. Foods high in carbohydrates, such as a small bowl of dry cereal with a small four ounce cup of milk, a slice of toast, bread or crackers, can promote sleep because they increase the level of sleep-inducing tryptophan. A snack high in protein (like one teaspoon of peanut butter or a low-fat cheese slice with whole grain crackers) can keep blood sugar levels up, and could help prevent bad dreams, headaches, and hot flashes. Avoid foods containing caffeine such as coffee, tea, caffeine-containing soft drinks, and chocolate.
Relaxation techniques: Relaxation techniques can help calm your mind and relax your muscles. These techniques include stretching and yoga, massage and deep breathing.
Exercise: Regular exercise during pregnancy promotes your physical and mental health. Exercise also can aid in helping you sleep more deeply. Vigorous exercise within four hours of bedtime should be avoided.