It’s no secret that pregnancy is hard on the body, and it can definitely make getting to sleep quite a chore. Here’s why you can’t fall asleep—and what you can do about it.
Sleeping while pregnant isn’t always an easy thing to do, whether it’s because of endless waves of nausea or not being able to get comfortable. In fact, many of your normal favorite sleeping positions may no longer feel good to you after a certain point—or a certain size—in your pregnancy.
Longing for a full night’s sleep?
Here are some common reasons why pregnancy can disrupt your sleeping habits, a few positions that can help you finally get a good night’s sleep, and some general tips for sleeping better while pregnant. It might seem impossible at first, but believe us, you can eventually get there.
Why am I uncomfortable?
Even for women in the beginning stages of their pregnancies, getting comfortable during the night can be a hard thing to accomplish. The obvious reason for this is because of your expanding belly, but what about women who aren’t even that big yet?
In general, pregnant women can experience a lot of discomfort due to nausea or vomiting, heartburn, and random aches and pains, especially in the lower back.
There are several other issues that can persist throughout pregnancy, especially as your body begins to change more and more. Fortunately, though, there are a few different sleeping positions you can try to stay comfortable throughout the night.
The name of this position might make it sound like you’re in distress somehow, but it actually stands for “sleep on side.”
Not only will sleeping on your side make it easier to work around your growing belly, but it will also increase blood flow throughout your body and to your baby. Lying on your back can actually begin to put pressure on various blood vessels throughout your body, and it can also make it harder for you to breathe.
If you still feel like sleeping on your side doesn’t do much for any back pain you have, you can also try sleeping with a pillow under your abdomen so the weight is more evenly distributed.
Prop yourself up.
If you tend to experience heartburn and acid reflux during the night while you're pregnant, elevating your head while you sleep can do you a world of good.
When you’re pregnant, there are a few different things that can cause you to develop acid reflux, including pressure in your abdomen and hormonal increases that can weaken your esophageal sphincter, the muscle that separates your stomach and esophagus.
By propping up your head and upper body, you can lessen the amount of pressure put on your upper abdomen, which can prevent the reflux from occurring. It can also make it easier for you to breathe if the pressure from your growing belly has been putting more pressure on your upper body.
As we mentioned before, you can also use pillows to prop up your belly if you choose to sleep on your side. Either way, using a full-body pillow that you can conform to your body is best.
Don't just lie there.
Whether you’re pregnant or not, we all toss and turn from time to time as we lie in bed and try to fall asleep. If you find that you’re experiencing this more and more frequently, don’t just take it lying down—instead, get up!
It might seem counterintuitive, but taking a quick walk around your house or taking a few minutes to do a little chore you’ve been avoiding can help you slow down and feel more tired—essentially, it’s almost like you’re boring yourself to sleep.
This can be especially helpful if you feel like your mind is racing as you’re lying in bed, because getting up and moving around can help you get some of that restless energy out of your system and feel more ready to settle in.
Make the bed a sleep-only zone.
We all know that our beds are obviously there for sleeping, resting, and doing the deed, but it can be hard for our bodies to remember that when we choose to use them for work.
Sure, a bed can be a convenient place to catch up on emails or fold the laundry, but doing these types of things in bed can break the association that your brain has when it comes to your bed and sleep.
Do yourself a favor and take your work somewhere else so that your body knows it’s time to relax when you hit the hay.
Put the phone away.
Even if you’re not using it to do work, it’s a good idea to put your phone down before you climb into bed. As you’re scrolling through Instagram, there are any number of random things that could make you excited or suck you in, taking you out of sleep mode pretty quickly.
You should also try to avoid any type of fast-paced activities before you get in bed, like working out or suddenly deciding you need to give your house a deep clean.
Comfort is key.
There’s not a person alive who enjoys sleeping on a crappy bed, and any aches and pains you get from using a bad mattress will only be amplified while you’re pregnant. Unfortunately, it’s not always in the budget for everyone to just run out and buy a brand new mattress, but there are a few things you can do to get one for cheap or spruce up the one you have.
Although it might sound strange, thrift stores often sell mattresses that are actually brand new, and you can get them for far less than you would at any other store. If you don’t want to go that route, you can also just buy a cushy mattress pad or feather bed to put on top of the mattress you have now to make it a little softer and easier on your body.
Additionally, different sizes, colors, and shapes of pillows not only make your bed prettier, but they can also be used to cushion you throughout the night and add a little extra support where needed.
Turn down the thermostat.
It’s no secret that pregnant women can get hot pretty easily, and this is especially true when they’re under the covers during the night. Although you can always kick the covers off, many people would rather be hot than sleep without anything covering them—even if it means they keep waking up because they’re hot.
If you constantly toss and turn due to getting hot while you're sleeping, try adjusting your thermostat to find a temperature that works best for you—start by lowering it just a few degrees, and adjust it as needed over the next few nights. Depending on the season, you can even open a window during the night, or only lower the temperature a few degrees and turn on a fan to cool it down even further.
You might also consider sleeping with lighter blankets while you’re pregnant if you’re someone who doesn’t like to sleep without some kind of covers.
Skip midnight snacks.
We know that you’re eating for two—maybe even more—but right before you decide to head to bed isn’t the time you should be walking toward the refrigerator looking for a snack. Eating and then lying down can make it even more likely that you’ll experience some acid reflux, and it might just make you feel more uncomfortable during the night.
If you feel like you really can’t get to sleep without a little bit of food in your stomach, opt for something lighter like fruit or fresh veggies as opposed to dairy, bread, or anything fried.
Avoid long naps.
Pregnancy can definitely make you feel worn down, and you might find yourself taking more naps throughout the day to recharge. There’s nothing wrong with this, but try not to fall asleep for hours during the middle of the day.
Napping for longer periods can put your body in a deeper stage of sleep, which can end up making you feel even more tired when you finally wake up. If you choose to nap, try to make it fairly short so you have a better chance of waking up feeling refreshed.