Sleeping Strategies whilst pregnant….

Often we get asked “How do I make sure I get enough sleep?”  An important question indeed.  Well we sleep for 8 hours a day or 1/3 of our lives.  It’s hard enough getting a good night’s sleep when you are not pregnant so how do we get those vital Zzzzz’s?   What you do during the day pretty much determines how tired you feel at night.  What are your normal daily activities, what is your normal sleep schedule, what is your sleep environment like?  The good news is that there are plenty of sleeping strategies you can employ so that you are not affected.

Sleeping Strategies are different for every person.  Firstly there are do’s and don’ts.  Best to avoid certain things that will ensure you keep yourself in tip top shape for sleep.   The winning sleep formula will be 70% of what we discuss in this article and the remainder 30% will be some experimentation on your part – but we will help you with those questions.  Lets start with things to avoid:

1. Keep it regular – Sleep the same amount day after day.  This will ensure your circadian rhythm will be consistent and get used to you falling off to sleep and waking up too.  Simple – set your bedtime clock for going to and getting up from sleep.  Keep to this time within 30 minutes of each day.   Being pregnant can be tiring – so napping during the day to make up for lost sleep is recommended instead of waking up late – this naturally disrupts yours circadian rhythm.

2.  Here are some things to avoid: For most women, pregnancy is a time of great joy, excitement and anticipation. Unfortunately, for many it can also be a time of serious sleep disturbance, even for women who have never had problems sleeping. In fact, according to the National Sleep Foundation’s 1998 Women and Sleep poll, 78% of women report more disturbed sleep during pregnancy than at other times. Many women also report feeling extremely fatigued during pregnancy, especially during the first and third trimesters. So sleep well ladies for you and for bub!

One of the reasons for fatigue and sleep problems during pregnancy are changing hormone levels. It is very important for pregnant women to prioritize sleep and to find effective strategies for managing their sleep problems as early as possible in their pregnancy.

Poor sleep can also have an effect on labour and delivery. Researchers from the University of California at San Francisco recently found that women who slept fewer than 6 hours per night had longer labours and were 4.5 times more likely to have caesarean deliveries. Based on these findings, the researchers recommend that doctors discuss both sleep quantity and sleep quality with their pregnant patients as part of basic prenatal care and stress the importance of “sleeping for 2”.

By practicing good sleep hygiene, most women are able to manage pregnancy-related insomnia.   The good news about most of the sleep problems experienced by pregnant women is that they tend to go away once the baby is born, but women should still pay close attention to their sleep after they give birth as new sleep problems may arise.

Research has demonstrated that sleeping on your left side is recommended for mums and baby’s health.   It is quite common when sleeping on your side however for the weight of your top arm to roll forward and lie against your torso at a sharper angle and compress your armpit-area, limiting circulation to your arm and causing some of those annoying pins-n-needles. This can be exacerbated if you start rolling forward a little bit onto your tummy as you rest (this can be particularly the case for women who are stomach sleepers when not pregnant).

Now let’s get some Sleep

To alleviate this problem you may want to try the Boomerang pillow Large which will help you hold your arm away from your body and minimize compression in that area. The Boomerang pillow is also especially useful for some mums to reduce strain on your upper shoulder and neck muscles (as the heavy arm is rolling forward, it’s pulling on your neck muscles).

Next, try tucking the Boomerang pillow or a pregnancy pillow under your belly, not only will this minimize your tendency to roll onto your belly, it’ll support your ligaments and lower back. Also, be sure to check out how you are propping your legs. Make sure you have substantial leg support — the firmer your leg pillows, the less give, and the less you will roll. That is why the Boomerang pillow can be tucked in between your legs or alternatively you may decide to use a specifically designed pregnancy pillow, which are normally slightly firmer than our own pillows at home.

Tips for the best sleep ever:

Sleeping well throughout pregnancy can be challenging. Follow these coping tips throughout your pregnancy to minimize loss of sleep:

  • Plan, schedule and prioritize sleep.
  • Sleep on your left side to improve the flow of blood and nutrients to your foetus and to your uterus and kidneys. Avoid lying on your back for extended periods of time. A pillow that is designed to help you sleep on your side is your best bet.
  • Drink lots of fluids during the day, especially water, but cut down on the amount you drink in the hours before bedtime.
  • In order to avoid heartburn, do not eat large amounts of spicy, acidic or fried foods. Also, eat frequent small meals throughout the day.
  • If you can’t sleep, don’t lie in bed forcing yourself to sleep. Get up and read a book, knit or crochet something for your baby, write in a journal, or take a warm bath.
  • When sleeping, lie on your left side with your knees and hips bent. Place a pregnancy pillow like the Pelvic Support pillow between your knees, or use the Comfort U pillow for all round body support. In most cases this will take pressure off your lower back.
  • Put a nightlight in the bathroom instead of turning on the light to use the bathroom — this will be less arousing and help you return to sleep more quickly.

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