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Sleep and Pregnancy: Addressing Sleep Changes During Gestation

For women expecting a child, pregnancy often brings many changes, but some may not realize that sleep can be affected too. Increasingly, doctors and researchers are beginning to understand the impact of inadequate sleep on the wellbeing of mothers and their unborn babies, so it’s important to be aware of the sleep changes that accompany pregnancy. In this article, we’ll explore how changes to sleep during gestation can be addressed.

1. Navigating the Sleep Rollercoaster of Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a complex affair, and navigating the sleep rollercoaster of it can be an especially daunting task. If a pregnant woman is already having issues sleeping, it can be incredibly overwhelming to decide what to do. Here are a few tips to help:

  • Go To Bed Earlier – It can be hard to make yourself follow this suggestion as the days go on and pregnancy keeps you up later. Even so, making the effort to go to sleep earlier can be beneficial and help you rest more in the long run.
  • Have An Adjustable Bed – Multiple body pillows and an adjustable bed can make sleeping more comfortable. It can be difficult to get a good sleep in a bed that isn’t adjustable. Having one specifically tailored to be adjustable can make getting a good night’s rest easier while pregnant.
  • Reduce Stress – Stress is a common issue for pregnant women, and it can affect how well you can sleep. Reduce stress as much as possible with relaxing activities or just taking some time out for yourself to get your mind off of what’s bothering you.
  • Use A Sleep Tracker – Sleep trackers are incredibly helpful tools when trying to assess your sleep and figure out what’s disrupting it. By using a sleep tracker, you can pinpoint what times of the day or night you’re most likely to have trouble sleeping and take steps to prevent it.

With the right approaches and tools, it’s possible to navigate the sleep rollercoaster of pregnancy. It won’t be easy, but focusing on healthy habits and making small adjustments to your routine can make a big difference.

2. Gentle Sleep Strategies to Restore Restful Slumber

We all know the value of a good night’s sleep – our mental and physical health depends on it! But sometimes, especially with chaotic lifestyles and stressful environments, our sleep can suffer. Below are a few gentle sleep strategies to get those precious hours back.

1. Create a pre-bedtime ritual. It might be reading a book, meditating, listening to some music or having a warm cup of tea. Whatever it is, make sure it’s something that will get you relaxed and ready to sleep. Creating a consistent ritual every night will help your body associate the action with sleep, and help you settle to bed more quickly.

2. Avoid screens. When we use digital devices, the blue light they emit can suppress melatonin (by 20% in some studies) – the hormone our bodies need to get to sleep. Try switching off your screen around an hour before going to bed, give yourself a chance to disconnect and relax.

3. Get some exercise. A regular exercise routine is beneficial for our sleep, even if it is a simple walk a few days a week. Exercising during the day will help regulate sleep hormones and give our body the physical tiredness it needs to be ready for sleep come night.

4. Check-in with your environment. How is your bedroom set-up? Is it dark enough? That might mean blackout curtain or using a sleep mask. Is it too noisy? Buy yourself some earplugs. Is it the right temperature? Too hot or too cold will interfere with sleep. Making sure your bedroom is optimised for sleep

3. Reducing Discomfort for a Deeper Night’s Sleep

Discomfort can be one of the greatest detriments to a night of quality sleep. Relaxing your body and mind is key for getting a good night’s rest.

Unwind the Body: There are a few key practices that can help you relax before sleeping. One of these is gentle yoga routine. Doing some poses that stretch out the body can help reduce tension and get you in the mood for sleep. Once finished with your routine, spend several moments in relaxation; focusing on the movement of your breath in and out. Other practices can include taking a warm shower and/or applying some lavender oil to the body.

Calm the Mind: In addition to relaxing the body, calming the mind is essential in getting a good night’s sleep. Unplugging from technology is highly recommended. This includes refraining from social media usage at least 1-2 hours before bed. Instead, read a short book, or listen to calming music. Being mindful of the physical and mental activities you participate in during this pre-bed downtime can help your mind and body wind down.

Using these tips can help reduce discomfort for a deeper night’s sleep:

  • Perform a gentle yoga stretching routine
  • Take a warm shower
  • Apply lavender oil
  • Unplug from technology
  • Read a short book
  • Listen to calming music

Following these practices will take some time and practice before becoming a part of your nighttime routine. Once routine is established, you will find the discomfort associated with sleep will quickly dissipate.

4. A Baby, a Body, and a Bed – Finding Balance

Almost every parent will be familiar with the struggle of pulling off a good night’s sleep in the midst of welcoming and caring for a new life. Of course, a little exhaustion is to be expected but with exhaustion comes the risk of feeling overwhelmed or burnt out.

It takes finding the right balance between the needs of a baby, our body’s essential needs, and customizing a bed of comfort. Here are a few strategies that can help us in our ongoing journey to restful slumber:

  • Know Thy Body: With any new activity, we want to make sure our body is not being overtaxed and that we are taking care of our own physical needs. Make sure to recognize thirst and hunger cue and listen to what your body is telling you.
  • Choose Comfort: Investing in a quality mattress and pillows that provide optimal support and comfort can make all the difference in being able to restfully drift away with each night. A room that’s set up for calming visuals and scents can also encourage restful sleep.
  • Balance Rest & Care: Set aside a specific time in the day to catch up on rest, like taking a nap with your baby. Nap times for your baby is a great opportunity to take a break for yourself and relax. Understanding and meeting an infant’s needs are key to finding the right balance, as not all babies require the same amount of rest and care.

We don’t want to feel like a shell of ourselves when our child comes into the world. Finding the right balance between the needs of a baby, our body, and the bedroom environment can go a long way in helping us find that peaceful space of rest.

5. Understanding Sleep Behavior to Create Supportive Habits

We all know how much restorative sleep is important for our overall well-being, but how can we ensure that we are getting the deep, restful sleep our bodies need? Here are some tips for understanding your sleep behavior and creating habits to support a good night’s rest.

  • Be mindful of your sleeping postures – Even if you don’t usually wake up with soreness or pain, your mattress and pillows can help you get enough sound sleep throughout the night. Experiment with different positions to find the one that works best for you.
  • Create a pre-sleeping routine – As our daily lives get more demanding and challenging, it’s important to carve out some me-time before bed to fully relax our minds. Consider meditating, turning off all electronics, and journaling before bed to get a head start for a peaceful night.
  • Know when to get help – Chronic sleeping issues are common, but can have serious effects on our physical, mental, and emotional health. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional if you experience difficulty in sleeping for more than a few weeks.

Making small changes in your habits and lifestyle can make a big difference in your sleep quality. The key is to understand how your body and mind respond to different conditions to make a plan that works for you. Give yourself the rest and rejuvenation you deserve and you’ll be on your way to living a more productive and fulfilling life.

As all pregnant women know, sleep changes are a natural part of the gestation process. There are a variety of strategies to maximize sleep hygiene and help address both the quality and duration of sleep. By recognizing and adjusting to the physical and emotional changes of pregnancy, mothers can increase their chances of enjoying a good night’s sleep, and with it, the prospects of better physical and mental health for themselves and their developing babies.

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