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Getting better sleep while pregnant

Restful sleep throughout your pregnancy can be difficult. Each trimester there are things that make quality sleep tricky as your body makes room for a growing baby. Below are some tips to help you get a restful night’s sleep throughout your pregnancy, trimester-by-trimester.

First Trimester

  • Nausea. Morning sickness is not just confined to the morning. If sickness hits at night or at 3 a.m. in the morning it can disrupt your sleep. Find something that works to ease the nausea. Often times, nausea sets in when your stomach is empty. Having crackers or ginger ale near your bed prevents a midnight run to the kitchen. If your nausea becomes severe, talk to your doctor at Summit OB/GYN.
  • Changing Hormones. During the first few months as the fetus grows, your body will be flooded with higher levels of progesterone. You may feel extremely tired and wanting to nap all the time. Schedule your sleep and try to nap earlier in the day so that it does not disturb your nighttime sleep schedule. In additional to exhaustion, the additional hormones and growing fetus will increase the need to go to the bathroom. Limit fluid intake 2-3 hours before bedtime. However, if you do need to get up during the night, try to stay in the dark. Nightlights can be your friend here, especially if the bulb is in the red spectrum. Studies show that light in the blue spectrum stimulates your melatonin levels, which makes you more alert and getting back to sleep more difficult.
  • Aches and pains.. You may not look pregnant in your first trimester, but some common aches and pains can already start to take a toll on your body as well as your night time sleep. Specifically, your hips can take quite the punishment during pregnancy. To relieve hip pain, place a pillow between your legs. As your body continues to change, you’ll want to place a pillow under your belly and start sleeping on your side—specifically your left side to boost blood and nutrient supply to your baby. Many invest in an extra long body pillow or C-shaped pregnancy pillow for ensure the most comfort during the night.

Second Trimester

  • Leg Cramps. Those painful Charlie horses often strike at night, waking you from a deep sleep. To prevent them, stretch your calf muscles before bed, and make sure that you drink plenty of fluids earlier in the day. Being low on magnesium may also trigger leg cramps, so be certain that you’re eating foods that are higher in magnesium, such as whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds.
  • Dreams. You may have some crazy, vivid dreams during your second trimester. These dreams can be made worse by stress. To help ease these dreams, relax on a regular basis with meditation and other relaxation techniques. Exercise can help to relieve stress as well. However be sure to exercise earlier in the day, giving at least 4 hours before bedtime.

Third Trimester

  • Back pain. Back pain can result from a combination of your growing belly and hormones during pregnancy that relax the ligaments in your joints and lower back. This pain can keep you up at night. At this point in your pregnancy, you’re sleeping on your side and you may find it helpful to add additional pillows. You may also find it comfortable to sleep in a reclining chair. Bend your knees to take tension off your back. Additionally, some back pain relief may come from doing a few gentle stretches before bed.
  • Heartburn. As your uterus grows, it places pressure on your stomach, which means stomach acid moves up your throat. Lying in bed to sleep can make this worse. Combat the heartburn by avoiding foods that cause heartburn (spicy, acidic or fried). Instead of laying down right after meals, stay upright. You can also prop the head of your bed up with blocks to change your angle of sleep.

No matter what you do, sleeping while you’re pregnant is a challenge. Understanding the causes and ways to combat them can make a significant difference in your sleep quality.