As more studies are carried out on the importance of sleep, it gets harder to pretend that 6 or less hours are enough. Research shows that we should be paying attention to the quality of the sleep, as well as the quantity. How are you meant to catch 8 hours of quality sleep when you have a notorious sleep thief keeping you awake?
We’ve put together 5 pointers on maximising your pregnancy sleep, so have a look and then get the head down for those all-important Z’s.
1. Get in position
As your body changes, so too should your sleep positions. Grab some additional pillows and find a set-up that’s comfy enough to nod off. It’s advised that you sleep on your side rather than your back as the weight of the uterus can restrict blood flow to the foetus. You can either build a little fort around your body with normal pillows or invest in a pregnancy pillow which is specially designed to support your changing body during sleep.
2. Let the nap choose you
The hormone progesterone which regulates the reproductive cycle is increased in the body during pregnancy. This important hormone has a lot of roles but one of the side-effects is an increased feeling of drowsiness. It can also interfere with the quality of sleep that you get at night. This is a recipe for fatigue so if you feel the need for a nap; take one, especially during the third trimester. Make sure that you keep naps to a 30-minute maximum- any longer and your body starts to enter REM sleep and it’s harder for you to wake up properly.
3. Keep bathroom breaks in the dark
The most common threat to a good night’s sleep is the incessant need for the bathroom. The bladder is under attack from the growing uterus but avoiding liquids isn’t an option. Stay hydrated during the day but it’s advised that you avoid liquids up to 3 hours before bed. When the inevitable occurs and you wake to use the bathroom, try to avoid harsh lights to guide your way as they will make it harder to go back to sleep. Invest in a good nightlight which will get you there safely without blasting you awake.
4. Get moving
In life, you can never underestimate the power of regular exercise and staying active. These nine months are no different. We can’t stress how important an active lifestyle is, even when every bit of your body feels allergic to movement. Exercise earlier in the day and if you don’t feel up to the exertion, invest in a pedometer and push your steps up the gentle way.
5. Make a habit of it
Getting a sound night’s sleep is a skill and just like any skill, practice makes perfect. When perfecting a new technique, the best way to build those positive neural pathways is to create a routine. Just like your baby, your brain is soothed by ritual. Try to get to bed at the same time every night, remove all stimulus and bright light, meditate, read, don’t eat heartburn causing food, get a comfortable temperature and wait for sleep to arrive. Also make sure that you don’t create unhealthy associations with your bed. Tempting as it may be, don’t work or eat from bed- this is your place of rest.
Don’t forget to catch Lucy Wolfe on the main stage at our Pregnancy and Baby Fair in the RDS this September. She’s a sleep expert and has transformed many a restless night into well-rested bliss.