How To Cope With Sleep Difficulties During Pregnancy

By in Pregnancy & Labor on 18 November 2008

Pregnant women need an increased amount of sleep or rest during pregnancy, in order to build new body cells. However, hormonal changes and pregnancy discomforts, can affect a pregnant woman’s quality of sleep. As a woman goes through each trimester of pregnancy, she may also experience various discomforts that may affect her sleep pattern.

During the first trimester of pregnancy, a woman may find herself waking up in the middle of the night to urinate. This is caused by the pregnancy hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin or hCG, which triggers frequent urination. Women may also find increased sleepiness during the day which is also expected.

A woman may feel an improvement in her sleep pattern during the second trimester of pregnancy. This is partly because the body has somewhat adapted to pregnancy needs. However, the emotional stress of pregnancy can still affect the quality of sleep that a pregnant woman gets.

Getting good quality of sleep, during the last trimester of pregnancy, can be really hard for a woman. A woman’s growing belly can cause discomfort like heartburn, cramps and difficulty in breathing while lying down. Frequent urination may again disturb sleep because the growing uterus puts pressure on the bladder.

However, there are ways to promote sleep during pregnancy. Drinking a glass of milk before bedtime can be helpful. Milk contains the amino acid tryptophan, which promotes sleep. It may also help if you include food items, which can promote sleep in your meals. These include tuna, halibut, artichokes, asparagus, potatoes, pumpkin, eggs, oats, avocadoes, apricots, bananas, walnuts and almonds. Foods high in carbohydrates like bread and crackers can also promote sleep. A light snack before bedtime can help, but a heavy meal before bedtime can only make sleeping more difficult. It is also essential to avoid foods that may cause or aggravate heartburn.

There are numerous studies with regards to the effects of caffeine during pregnancy. A little amount of caffeine may not harm your baby, however it may be best to cut back on it, if you are having sleep problems. It may take around eight hours for the effects of caffeine to wear off. Thus, staying away from coffee and other foods containing caffeine, may help in promoting sleep.

Exercise can also promote overall health and well-being. There are exercises suited for a pregnant woman. These can be safely done for as long as you don’t have a high-risk pregnancy. Consult your doctor regarding your restrictions in order to prevent any complications. Exercise when done regularly, can promote deep sleep. Avoid vigorous exercise four hours before your bedtime. You may find yourself with an increased energy afterwards, thereby making sleep more difficult.

Relaxation techniques can be very helpful because it can calm your mind and relax your muscles. Techniques like yoga, stretching and deep breathing can help in promoting sleep. You may also want to set the right environment for sleep. Avoid watching television and turn out the lights earlier to set the mood for sleeping.

As your baby grows inside your tummy, it may be harder to find a comfortable position for sleep. Sleeping on your left side is recommended because it allows maximum flow of blood and oxygen to your baby. If you need to change positions, you can shift to sleeping on your right side because it can promote comfort, as compared to lying on your back. You may also use a pillow between your legs because it can help support your lower back.

Sleep is an important aspect in maintaining a healthy pregnancy. If any of these measures don’t work for you, it may be best to contact your health care provider. Pregnancy after all is a delicate condition, and a woman needs to exert extra effort in order to avoid any pregnancy related complications.

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