If sleep is just what you’re craving at the end of pregnancy, but you’re struggling to get enough, it’s time to try these simple sleep rules
You might think that sleep deprivation is something you have to deal with once baby arrives but for many mums, getting a good night’s rest in pregnancy can be a real challenge, particularly in the third trimester. Thankfully, there are things you can do to help.
By now that tiny bump has grown into an impressive belly which makes getting comfortable difficult – and once you do drop off, tossing and turning is something you can only dream of.
If you have trouble getting comfy, get creative with pillows. Use them to prop you up or rest body parts on – many women find folding a pillow over and placing between the legs can help. You might also want to invest in a specially designed pregnancy pillow for this purpose.
Remember to always sleep on your left-hand side. This will help prevent the weight of your unborn baby from pressing on the inferior vena cava, the blood vessel that brings blood to your heart from the lower half of your body, thereby improving circulation.
And avoid sleeping flat on your back as it can put unnecessary pressure on your overworked blood vessels and may result in palpitations, low blood pressure and shortness of breath.
If you have trouble getting comfy, get creative with pillows
As the weight of your growing baby begins to press on your bladder, expect more night time trips to the loo. Added to that, your kidneys are now ‘peeing for two’ and will be filtering up to 50 percent more blood than usual.
It’s important to stay hydrated, so make sure you drink plenty of water during the day but limit the amount you drink before bedtime. Remember to go to the toilet before turning in and learn forward when you urinate – this will help to completely empty your bladder.
Think ahead and leave a night-light on in the hallway or bathroom – that way you won’t need to put on a bright light and be shocked into wakefulness.
What to eat
Heartburn and indigestion are common during the third trimester so avoid eating big or spicy meals late at night. Instead, have a light snack to stave off hunger pangs – try a protein with a complex carbohydrate, like whole-grain crackers with peanut butter, or a banana and glass of warm milk to help settle your stomach.
Caffeine (in coffee, tea, cola drinks and chocolate) is best avoided, as is anything sugary which will cause a blood sugar spike and drop.
Tiredness is only to be expected in the latter stages of pregnancy, but try to get some exercise each day if you can. A brisk walk in the park, swimming or a yoga class will make for a healthier pregnancy and help you to sleep at night.
Exercise in the day or early evening, and not just before bed, as this can prevent you from dropping off. Doing a few gentle leg stretches may help to reduce leg cramping at night.
More tips for getting a better night’s sleep
Make sure your environment is right for sleeping. Switch off the TV or laptop, dim the lights and make sure the window is open. Pregnant women tend to feel hot, so make sure the room is cool enough (even if it means your partner having to sleep in a few extra layers!).
If you’re feeling tense, take a warm (not hot) bath just before bed and try a few deep breathing or relaxation exercises.
Staying relaxed is the most important thing you can do. Anxiety and looking at the clock (turn it around so you can’t see it) will only make it harder to go back to sleep. If you can’t drop off, try reading a book for a while or get up and have a warm drink of milk.
Getting a good night’s sleep isn’t always easy, but you’ll want to rest as much as you can before your baby arrives – and the real sleep deprivation begins!