pregnant woman cradling belly

 

Adults should always aim to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep, but for most of us, that doesn’t quite happen, especially in pregnancy. Unfortunately, many sleep disturbances that arise during pregnancy are often due to circumstances beyond our control, but there are still many ways to prioritize healthy sleep during this time. Here are some things you can do to ensure that you are getting the rest that you need: 

1. Keep a consistent bedtime and wake time

Even if you aren't working in an office anymore, doctors still recommend that you wake up and go to sleep at the same times as usual (unless your usual is too late!). Bodies always function best on routine and you will sleep best when you go to sleep within your natural sleep window, which for most adults is between 8pm-9:30 PM.

2. Get some natural sunlight every day

 Getting enough Vitamin D is crucial to helping your circadian rhythm drive your internal sleep cycle. If you can, try to get a decent amount of sunlight throughout the day, even if for just short periods at a time (and make sure to wear sunblock!).  

3. Exercise a minimum of 30 minutes per day 

You don’t have to take a 5-mile-walk or lift weights everyday; just a walk around the neighborhood is usually enough, or even chores like vacuuming or scrubbing the bathtub can contribute to a 20 minutes per day goal! For children and adults, the World Health Organization specifically recommends at least 60 minutes of exercise a day. Studies have also shown that getting enough exercise during pregnancy can help promote a healthy labor and birth experience. 

4. Eat healthy

Eating healthy during pregnancy is not only important for you, but also for your growing baby. Additionally, making sure to eat the right balance of foods during pregnancy is important for healthy sleep. Too much sugar can directly contribute towards sleep disruptions, especially too close to bedtime and chances are you likely have already cut out spicy or citrusy foods as well which can also cause sleep issues.

 5. Write down your concerns/thoughts

Instead of letting your plans and thoughts run away with you at night, try writing in a journal. Write out a "worry list" or even a "to-do list,” if those are thoughts that keep you awake at night. We also encourage you to have conversations with your partner and/or friends if you are feeling anxious or overwhelmed. Processing your emotions/thoughts can help promote relaxation and calm the mind before rest periods. 

6. Limit screentime before bed

Many of us are on our electronic devices now more than ever because of the news and social media, but make sure to avoid screentime 1 to 2 hours before bed. Dim lighting will help your melatonin levels rise, but the blue light that emits from screens can prevent that, making it harder to fall asleep. Likewise, if you wake up throughout the night, resist reaching for your phone.

7. Try taking a warm shower or bath before bed

Warm water can help your melatonin levels rise, which can help you go to sleep easier. When pregnant, a bath might help ease your aching muscles, too!

8. Take a short nap during the day

You don’t have to live in Europe to take a siesta mid-day! Short naps between 30-45 minutes can actually help promote night sleep when taken between 1:00-3:00 PM, especially while your body is expending so much energy to grow a human.

9. Increase water intake

During pregnancy it is especially important to increase your fluid intake, but did you know that mid-afternoon crash can also be due to dehydration? Try carrying around a water bottle with you that you can refill and have close throughout the day!

10. Use a pregnancy pillow

Many women struggle to get comfortable throughout the night, especially in the third trimester. Thankfully there are many pregnancy pillows that can help support you and your growing belly so you can get the sleep you need!

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AUTHOR: Rachel Mitchell is a maternity and pediatric sleep coach and mom of 6. She is the creator of the Sleep Profile Method and a sleep expert at Motherly. You can also find her at www.mysweetsleeper.com.

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