Whether you are a first-time mum or a mum to be, it is definitely not uncommon as a midwife to hear pregnant women describe their difficulties with trying to get enough sleep. This blog will help you to understand what the causes of disturbances in your usual sleeping pattern could be, as well as giving you potential solutions to try and find how to get a better night’s sleep so you can face a new day feeling more refreshed.
Why is sleep during pregnancy so difficult?
There are many causes of sleep disturbance during pregnancy, which can begin as early as the 1st trimester. Trying a few simple adjustments maybe all you need to do to reclaim your sleeping pattern.
- Nausea. This is most common during the 1st trimester of pregnancy but can last throughout. Try eating little and often and avoid food for at least a couple of hours before sleeping.
- Needing to urinate frequently. This is common from the 1st trimester and is due to hormonal changes and your kidneys adjusting to this. Although this will settle down, the increase in your uterus size due to your baby growing will become a reason for frequent toilet visits later on in pregnancy, as your bladder will have less room.
- Feeling achy and uncomfortable. Aches and pains are common side effects during most pregnancies. As your bump grows your posture can change, which uses different muscles and creates soreness and aching in different areas of your body. Hormonal changes, mainly an increase in progesterone, also loosen muscles and ligaments in preparation for the birth.
- Heartburn. Up to 70% of women will have experienced this by the end of their pregnancy. This is again caused by progesterone as it can cause the sphincter which closes the stomach to the oesophagus to become lax, causing acid reflux.
- Restless legs. Up to 25% of pregnant women report restless legs syndrome and it usually peaks during the 3rd trimester. There isn’t enough research to identify what causes this but reducing caffeine intake and increasing physical activity is thought to improve this condition for some.
- Anxiety. You may be more prone to developing mental health issues during pregnancy, especially if you have previously had any problems. You can find out more about mental health during pregnancy and where to access support here .
- Snoring. You may find that you start snoring for the first time in your life! This can be due to changing hormone levels and/or weight gain. Or it may be that your partner is keeping you awake with their snoring if you are sleeping more lightly.
How can I get more sleep?
There are several ways you can try to help you sleep better, so see which ones fit best into your lifestyle or actually work for you:
- Regular bedtime. Whilst this sounds obvious it can actually be something that needs effort to achieve. Try setting time limits for getting into bed to wind down before sleeping. Don’t use TVs or radios in the bedroom area and try not to use your phone for a couple of hours beforehand. You can also try having a relaxing bath with your favourite essential oils.
- Hypnobirthing. This can work a treat for helping to relax your mind as well as help you to prepare for the birth of your baby. Women and partners often report falling into a deep sleep whilst listening to hypnobirthing tracks. Find out more about the benefits of hypnobirthing here .
- Exercise. However you exercise it can have positive effects on both your physical and mental health, so try to choose a type which is enjoyable and fits into your weekly routine as this will mean you are more likely to stick with it.
- Sleeping on your side. There is now some evidence to suggest sleeping mostly on your side in the 3rd trimester helps to reduce the risk of stillbirth, but if you do wake up on your back, don’t worry, simply roll back onto your side again.
- Customise your bedroom. If you are able to, treat your bedroom to a makeover. This can be done easily by just changing furniture around or swapping a light bulb to a lower wattage. If your curtains don’t block out the light well, invest in some blackout lining or blinds.
- Small alterations. It can be the little things which make the biggest difference! Just altering a mealtime to prevent heartburn, dropping a drink in the evening, which was close to bedtime, or buying an extra pillow to help you to become more comfortable.
Changes in your sleep pattern during pregnancy are common. Read this blog to discover why your usual sleep pattern might be disturbed and to learn about the tips you can try to get more sleep before your new arrival.