13 Ways To Sleep Better While Pregnant
When you’re pregnant, sleep is essential for your health and the health of your baby. The changes in your body, though, can make getting a good night’s rest more difficult than it should be.
During the first trimester, your body releases progesterone, a hormone that can act as a natural sedative. This can cause you to feel groggy all day long and interfere with your body’s natural sleep rhythms at night.
During the second and third trimesters, the changes in your body begin to become more pronounced. Besides a growing tummy, you have to deal with itchy skin, cramps, back pain, and stress.
Rest easy, though. Mustela is here to help. In this article, we share our favorite tips to improve your pregnant sleep so you can feel your best.
Tips For Better Pregnant Sleep
1) Head To Bed When You’re Sleepy
Your body goes through a lot of changes when you’re pregnant. One of those changes is the amount of sleep you need.
If you find yourself nodding off earlier than usual, don’t worry. It’s natural to feel sleepy earlier in the evening during pregnancy. It’s important to listen to your body while you’re pregnant, so adjust your bedtime by how you feel.
There’s nothing strange or wrong about going to bed at 7:00 or 8:00 p.m. if that’s what your body needs.
2) Avoid Caffeine After Lunch
Caffeine is a stimulant that can have several negative effects on your sleep patterns.
First, it can keep you awake long after your normal bedtime. Second, once you do fall asleep, it can cause you to wake up often throughout the night. Third, even small amounts of caffeine can keep your baby awake and moving around into the wee hours of the morning.
Any one of these results can have a profound effect on the quality and duration of the sleep you get each night.
The best option is to remove caffeine completely from your diet, but we know that you might need a pick-me-up during the day.
That’s why we recommend avoiding caffeine after lunch. Limiting your caffeine intake to the morning gives your body time to process the stimulant out of your system.
3) Get Some Sun During The Day
Your body needs exposure to sunlight during the day to keep its internal clock ticking properly. If you don’t get enough sun, melatonin secretion—the stuff that signals your body to sleep—can be disrupted.
How much sun do you need to keep everything running smoothly? We recommend twenty to thirty minutes per day.
If you go for a walk or a run, count that as your sun exposure for the day. If you want a less-active option, try reading a book outside or sitting by a window.
While you’re getting your Vitamin D, don’t forget to protect yourself! For maximum skin protection against the sun’s harmful UV rays, we recommend Mustela’s SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen Lotion.
We make our sunblock with mineral UV filters rather than chemical UV filters and leave out the parabens, phthalates, and phenoxyethanol that do more harm than good.
4) Make Your Room As Dark As Possible
You need light during the day, but not at night. To help your body reach a deep sleep, make your room as dark as possible.
Cover the windows with heavy curtains and get rid of all light sources in your room. Turn off any digital clocks or electronics that glow. Even the light from a nightlight can inhibit the secretion of melatonin.
This melatonin helps you fall asleep. The lack of it can keep you awake long after your regular bedtime. Even if you do doze off, your brain will register that small amount of light through your eyelids and you won’t get the deep sleep you need.
5) Minimize Your Exposure To Blue Light At Night
Blue light—the light emitted by electronics with screens—can drastically affect your body’s ability to fall asleep at night.
It’s so disruptive because blue-wavelength light boosts attention, reaction time, and mood. The blue light is basically fooling your body into thinking it’s still daytime.
To minimize the influence that blue light has on your body at night, we suggest turning off all electronic devices at least an hour before going to bed. This gives your body time to relax and slow down so you are better prepared to fall asleep.
6) Be Active During The Day For Better Pregnant Sleep
We recommend low-impact activities like swimming, walking, or yoga to keep your body fit and active. Try to complete your physical exercise at least three hours before bedtime to give your body time to unwind.
7) Eat Lightly If Eating Before Bed
Too much food too close to lights out can disrupt your sleep. It increases body temperature and forces your stomach to digest when it wants to slow down.
If necessary, eat a small snack like a piece of fruit or handful of nuts two or three hours before bed. This gives your body time to digest while still providing enough calories to get you through the night.
8) Choose The Right Mattress
The mattress you choose can have a major influence on the quality of your sleep. A mattress that’s too firm means you’ll feel pressure points at your hips and shoulders. A mattress that’s too soft doesn’t provide enough support for your neck and back.
Get a new mattress if your current one isn’t working for you. Be sure to try out the mattress before you buy it so you find the one that is right for you.
9) Get Comfortable In Bed
Getting comfortable in bed can be tricky when you’re pregnant.
We suggest using pillows to elevate your legs when sleeping on your back (which should be only during the first trimester). When you turn on your side, place a pillow between your legs to take pressure off your hips and another pillow under your stomach to keep your body in a comfortable position.
Experiment with different positions and find one that works best for you. Be sure to try out different pillows for your neck and head, too. You may have slept with one type of pillow all your life, but when you get pregnant, your preference may change.
Note: Sleeping on your back is not recommended after the first trimester of pregnancy. It can be dangerous because it causes the weight of your growing uterus to rest on your intestines and your vena cava, the main vein that carries blood from your lower body to your heart.
10) Make Your Night Routine A Relaxing Event
A warm shower before bed can help your body relax and prepare you for a good night’s sleep. A warm shower can also loosen a stiff neck and shoulders and improve circulation, making it easier to get to sleep.
Combining these activities not only gets you ready for bed, but it also helps reduce the appearance of stretch marks in the process.
11) Breathe Deeply Before Bed
After a long, hard day, you probably expect to fall asleep quickly and stay that way throughout the night.
But, all too often, the stress of the day and the expectations for tomorrow keep your mind running and your body on edge. That prevents you from drifting off to dreamland after you turn the lights out — even when you’re exhausted.
Then, to make matters worse, failing to fall asleep when you know you should only adds to your anxiety and keeps you awake well past your bedtime.
You can counteract this vicious cycle by focusing on a deep-breathing exercise to reduce stress before bed.
Here’s how you do it:
- Place the tip of your tongue against the spot where the back of your front teeth and your gums meet. Keep your tongue there while you practice the breathing.
- Exhale through your mouth while making a whooshing sound.
- Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose for a count of four.
- Hold your breath for a count of seven.
- Exhale through your mouth while making a whooshing sound for a count of eight.
- That’s one cycle. Repeat steps 3-5 at least three more times for a total of four cycles.
The benefits of this technique are three-fold:
- Breathing deep for the prescribed amount of time gives your brain something to focus on other than the big project at work.
- Breathing deep slows your heart rate.
- Breathing deep increases the amount of oxygen in your bloodstream and releases harmful carbon dioxide that can build up in your body.
For maximum benefits, try to keep your counting at the same pace throughout the inhale, hold, and exhale.
If you don’t have enough breath to exhale for a count of eight, or you can’t manage to hold your breath for a count of seven, don’t worry about it (that defeats the purpose of the whole exercise).
If you continue to practice, your lung capacity will improve so you can hit those numbers every time.
12) Use Aromatherapy To Sleep Better
While you’re practicing your deep breathing before bed, throw in a bit of aromatherapy to sleep better and more soundly throughout the night. Which scent should you use? Lavender!
Studies show that the scent of lavender inhaled before bed actually improves sleep patterns by:
- Increasing deep, slow-wave sleep (SWS)
- Increasing stage 2 (light) sleep
- Decreasing rapid eye movement (REM)
- Decreasing grogginess in the morning
Want to try incorporating aromatherapy into your nightly routine for better pregnant sleep? Here are a few suggestions:
- Scent your room with fresh lavender or lavender essential oil
- Use a lavender-scented dryer ball so your sheets, pillowcases, and blankets come out clean and fragrant
- Keep a bottle of lavender oil by your bed and breathe in the aroma for two minutes
Combining aromatherapy and the deep breathing exercise in the previous step is a great way to relax after a long day and fall asleep faster.
13) Keep Your Room Cool
The suggested temperature for a good night’s sleep is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit (with 65 degrees the number mentioned most often).
An ambient room temperature in this range allows your body to cool while you sleep. That, in turn, lets your body redirect the energy it uses to maintain a normal body temperature (around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit) to other tasks, such as repair and rejuvenation.
Temperatures below and above the 60-67 degree range make it harder to fall asleep, lead to restlessness throughout the night, and affect the quality of the sleep you do experience.
Though you may set the temperature to the 70s during the day, turn it down before bed so that it’s within the suggested range when you turn out the lights.
Mustela Cares About You
Mustela wants you to enjoy your pregnancy, and we know that good sleep is essential for your health and the health of your baby.
If you’re having trouble falling asleep — or having trouble staying asleep throughout the night — implement these tips into your daily and nightly routine.
We suggest picking one or two of the ideas that most appeal to you and trying them out for a few nights. When you’re comfortable with those, pick one or two more and add them to your regular activity.
With time and practice, you can enjoy a restful and reinvigorating night’s sleep through all nine months of your pregnancy.
While you’re trying new things to make your pregnancy experience the best it can be, consider adding Mustela’s maternity skin care products to your routine for smooth, hydrated skin both day and night!