Are you or someone you love not getting a good night’s rest anymore because there’s a little one on the way? Rest assured you’re not alone in this, and there are myraid ways to help get yourself to sleep, not the least of which is the right type of bedding.
Whether we’re talking about the right kinds of mattress, sheets, pillows, what have you, there are numerous things you can do which can get you into more comfortable positions to keep things where the need to be and help you finally fall asleep.
More than that, however, creating the right type of environment and taking certain steps before bed can also help you get those hours of rest you so desperately desire.
Pregnancy and Sleep: What to Expect
Each step of pregnancy can bring its own challenges when it comes to trying to get a good night’s sleep. Knowing these in advance can help you be ready to combat them once they start popping up.
Thanks to increased levels of progesterone and, you know, a baby pushing on your uterus, you’re likely going to find yourself having to get up to urinate more frequently than you would like. The key to this is actually quite simple: Don’t drink as much as you near time for bed.
During this time, morning sickness can also be an issue. And, in spite of the name, it doesn’t always make itself known in the morning. It could be at 3 a.m., it could be right before bed. It could be any time, really. Preparing for this eventuality is key. One way to do so is to keep food nearby which can help, such as saltines. If your stomach is feeling off, dine on one of these and see if it helps out.
The body’s big metabolic changes happen in the first trimester, so when the second comes around you’re likely to find yourself sleeping better right off the bat. Still, it does bring its own issues. Heartburn becomes more of a concern as the baby begins to put more pressure on your stomach.
Dodging foods which cause heartburn can help with that, to some extent, though some of it may be somewhat unavoidable. During pregnancy, your body takes longer to digest food, so give it time to do so by remaining upright for longer after a meal. Resist the urge to lay down right after dinner.
Two other problems which rear their ugly heads are the onset of leg cramps, typically in the calf, and the potential for vivid dreams. There isn’t a lot you can do about these at this point, save for keeping yourself from worrying too much about things you can’t control.
Perhaps the biggest issues come in the third trimester, as this is when the baby is at its largest. With the increased size of the baby, you’re going to feel more pressure on all of your organs. You may find you have difficulty breathing because of the decreased room in your lung cavity. Sleep apnea can also spring up, which brings its own risks.
At this point, restless leg syndrome can also spring up. This condition, which is described as feeling like ants are crawling inside your legs, can be combatted by talking a walk, a warm bath, or a little bit of massage. Ladies, get your partner on that, ASAP.
Getting in the Right Headspace
Starting to get a good night’s sleep means taking the necessary steps to fall asleep before your head even hits the pillow.
A Sleeping Schedule
Do you remember being able to sleep well back when you were a kid? There’s a reason for that: a schedule. In today’s world, with so much going on and so much constantly needing to be done, it’s easy to not sleep on a consistent schedule, and that can mess with your ability to get restful sleep.
Being sure to go to bed and get up at roughly the same time every day can go a long way toward improving your sleep quality. In doing this, your body knows when it’s time to go to sleep, so it will naturally begin to wind down and prepare for that moment. If you start throwing things out of whack, you’ll find it more difficult to fall asleep and hit the deep, restful sleep you desire.
Hide the Electronics
One of the last things I do each night after I climb into bed is grab my phone and start scrolling around, reading the latest on Facebook or Reddit. This is a pretty common thing, I’m sure, but it’s not necessarily a good one. This is particularly true for those who aren’t able to get a lot of sleep.
The bright lights of a smartphone or tablet screen can keep your brain more alert, and even the act of typing can keep your mind more active than you’d like. It’s not an easy thing to do, but consider other alternatives for late-night activities.
Perhaps read a book instead, or listen to calming music. These activities will better serve to help your mind and body slow down, rather than being constantly active.
Watch the Diet
With pregnancy, you’re already at risk of suffering from acid reflux, which can certainly put a damper on your attempts to sleep. Few things are worse when trying to settle down to rest for the night, then suddenly having that acid hit the back of your throat.
Considering this, it’s very important to pay attention to what you eat when bedtime nears. Spicy foods, or foods with high acidity, should be avoided. These can lead to undue problems which TUMS might not be able to solve.
If you’re in need of a late night snack, consider something high in protein mixed with a carb. For instance, you can spread some peanut butter on a slice of toast. High-protein foods, such as peanut butter, contain tryptophan, which is known to make sleep more successful. Combining it with a carb just helps it get where it needs to go faster.
Should heartburn or acid reflux continue to be an issue, consider propping yourself up with some pillows. Keeping your head elevated should help keep the acid from jumping up higher.
Since we’re talking about sleep and pregnancy, avoiding alcohol is already a no-brainer. Outside of pregnancy, alcohol does help people fall asleep faster, but it can actually be detrimental to health sleep as it reduces the rapid eye movement, or REM, phase of sleep.
By the same token, caffeine should be avoided for several hours before bedtime. Coffee and tea are great things, but caffeine can stay in the system for quite some time. If you’re going to bed at a reasonable hour, try to avoid anything with caffeine in it after lunch and you’ll find yourself having a better time once you climb into bed.
Clear the Mind
Constant worrying isn’t unusual during a pregnancy. You may find yourself laying in bed at night thinking about everything which needs to be done. Is the bag packed? Did we install the safety latches? When is this thing going to pop out? These can definitely keep you up at night.
Saying “Don’t worry” is far easier said than done, but there are some things you can do to help push those concerns out of your mind for a little while, anyway. Personally, I find meditation to be a great help. Meditation can take some practice, as clearing your mind isn’t an easy task, but once you’ve got it down, using meditation techniques to assist in falling asleep is like magic.
If meditation isn’t doing it for you, perhaps simply voicing your concerns with someone will help out. Call a friend, see a therapist or speak to a doctor and seek feedback regarding your concerns. If you can alleviate them, you’ll find yourself sleeping better in no time at all.
Focus on the Body
Exercise is a fantastic way to make sure you’re good to go by the time bedtime comes around. That’s not to say, however, that you should exercise before bed. Doing so would actually not be in your best interest. Exercising cause your body to produce adrenaline, which is basically natural caffeine. That stuff is going to keep you up all night.
Instead, exercise earlier in the day. Doing so not only helps you improve circulation, it also gets your body in the need for rest. This is a great combination for sleep.
Make the Bedroom the Bedroom
In order to make your bedroom the best place possible to sleep, you need to train your mind to realize what exactly that room is for: sleep and sex. You shouldn’t hang out in your bedroom. You shouldn’t watch television. You shouldn’t be doing anything in there except for the things you are supposed to do in there.
In this way, you train your body to react a certain way when entering the room. It’s much like having a set sleep schedule. When it hits the right time and you’re in the right place, sleep should come on completely naturally.
You may be pregnant, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a little help to fall asleep if you need it. Obviously, many sleep medications will be off the table, but you can speak to your doctor to find out those they might recommend.
For instance, the ingredients found in medications like Benadryl, Sominex and Unisom are used from time to time as sleep aids. Before you decide to take anything, though, check with your doctor. Everyone’s situation is different and you don’t want to do anything which could risk harm to your baby.
In the event you’re not getting enough sleep at night, you still need to make sure your body is being rested. If you find yourself tired throughout the day, perhaps it’s time to consider taking a nap.
I understand how hard it can be to nap in this day and age. There are constant pressures going on which demand our attention at all times, but when you’ve got a baby on the way, you’ll want all the rest you can get. Once that kiddo is born, sleep becomes a commodity and not something you can take for granted.
Additionally, you being fatigued isn’t good for the baby, so find the time to rest whenever you can.
Pregnancy-Specific Sleep Tips
The preceding tips are great things to keep in mind in general for sleep, but those don’t cover everything you may be experiencing, so let’s now focus and take a look at what exactly you may be running into as you have that new life growing inside you.
No Room in the Gut
We talked about this a bit before, but as the baby increases, the room inside your body for your other organs is going to start to become scarce. Added pressure on your lungs can make it difficult to breathe and the pushing on your bladder will send you to the bathroom more often.
One thing noted by Dr. Carol Ash, M.D., of Jamesburg, New Jersey, is that, should you need to use the bathroom, you should consider installing a night light. Walking through the dark then turning on the bathroom light can have an impact on your brain, providing too much input and possibly waking you up just a little too much.
Once that baby bump has gone from a bump to a hill, you’re going to find it pretty much impossible to sleep on your back. Doing so will make it quite difficult to breathe and could even cause heart problems due to pressure on your vena cava, the vein which gets blood to your heart.
Once the third trimester comes around, you may have to do some experimenting. Try sleeping on your left side. Sleeping on your left side is good as it helps more good stuff get to your placenta. If that doesn’t work, bring in the pillows to prop yourself up. This will reduce the pressure the baby puts on your organs and can help with heartburn issues.
Pillows are a great help in general. You can use them to prop up your belly or between your legs to ease additional strain on your hips.
Falling asleep isn’t easy when you’re in pain, and when you’re carrying that baby around all day, the stress on your back and abdomen can be awful. To assist in this, the belly band was invented. This tool helps to relieve the strain from these sensitive areas, which can then equate to a better night’s sleep.
A big issue with trying to sleep while pregnant is getting the mind calmed down. With so much going on, and the prospect of everything which may lie ahead, concerns are going to mount. You can relieve some of that, however, with a little added information. Something like this fetal doppler device can help you keep track of your baby’s stats and maybe set your mind at ease.
Bedding and You
For the most part, there aren’t a bunch of specific bedding items out there to help you out during your pregnancy, but you can use a great many common items to your benefit. In fact, some modern bedding seems to perfectly fit the bill whether it was meant to or not.
We’ve been talking about all the added pressure and strain being pregnant puts on your body. It would make sense, then, that a memory foam mattress can be of great benefit to helping relieve some of that. The method in which they work seems ideal for cradling your body, including the large bump on your front side.
The way memory foam works is that it adjusts to your body by using the heat your produce. Your body heat makes it more viscous, so it shapes to your form, holding you in place. It can make adjusting a bit of a struggle, but if you can fall asleep quickly, you may not find yourself changing position often.
Should a memory foam mattress not be an option, a topper can help. They make memory foam mattress toppers in many different thicknesses, up to at least 3.5 inches.
The one big downside to memory foam is a matter of heat retention. While pregnant, you’ll already be experiencing warmer sensations, so this could be a concern. There are options, however, which can help with that problem. Gel-infused memory foam, for instance, is designed to negate the heat problem.
Pillows, Pillows, Pillows
For pure versatility, nothing beats the pillow. You can place it between your legs to ease pain on your hips. You can pop one under your belly to keep it from drooping too much and causing your pain. You can wrap a body pillow around you to put some extra support on your back.
You can do pretty much anything with a pillow, and some special ones out there could work better for you than others. There are memory foam pillows, for instance, which follow the same rules as explained in the mattress section. These could work out better than a standard pillow for support issues. It’ll just take a little experimentation.
Some specially designed pillows are also helpful. A wedge pillow could be an incredible help to you during your pregnancy. Not only can you use it to prop yourself up in order to combat acid reflux and the like, it can be used to lift your legs to help increase circulation, among other things.
As sort of an extension of the conversation regarding your mattress, the foundation on which your mattress sits can actually be made to benefit you during pregnancy, and for some time after that. Thanks to the invention and popularity of memory foam mattresses, adjustable beds are more popular than ever.
With the proper mattress and an adjustable foundation, you’ll be able to increase the incline of the bed behind your head, your back and under your feet, giving you the option to customize your sleeping situation to whatever your current condition may require.
Feeling a little too much acid reflux? Kick that back up. Your feet swelling? Bring up the legs! I would say the options are endless, but that would be inaccurate. There are enough options, however, to get what you need.
Sheets and Blankets
Really, there isn’t any way your sheets and blankets can assist you all that much in pregnancy. The only advice I can offer here is to find what you feel are the most comfortable and stick with them. Keep in mind, you’re probably going to get warmer than you usually might, so perhaps something a little lighter than you’re used to will be of benefit to you.
It also might not be a bad idea to have a thick blanket or comforter. In the event you don’t have access to something like a body pillow, bunching up a thick blanket can serve a similar purpose, allowing you to wrap it around your body in a similar method for support.
What Does It All Mean?
Having a baby is an experience which will literally change every aspect of your life pretty much forever. Your life is no longer your own, as you must dedicate it to this tiny life you have brought into the world. It is in your best interest to make sure you’re doing everything in your power to make sure it comes into the world in the best way it can.
Part of that means taking care of yourself and getting the absolute best rest you can. Through proper control of diet and exercise, keeping hydrated and using the tools available to you to make sure each night is as restful as possible, you can make sure both you and the life you are creating have the energy needed to continue to grow and develop right up until the birth day.