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. We’re sharing the ten best ways to improve your pregnant sleep so you can feel your best.
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.
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
Exercising your body during the day is a great way to improve your sleep while pregnant. There are plenty of options for safe pregnancy workouts. We recommend 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. Too little food, on the other hand, can cause hunger pains to wake you up in the middle of the night. Eat a healthy dinner to keep cravings under control. 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. 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.
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 loosen a stiff neck and shoulders and improve circulation making it easier to get to sleep. The minutes after the shower or bath are a great time to continue the relaxation by gently massaging your skin with a stretch marks oil or moisturizing balm. Combining these activities not only gets you ready for bed, but it also helps prevent stretch marks in the process.