Having a baby is one of the most incredible experiences you can go through. It’s truly a miracle, and it changes you forever. But it’s also physically taxing on a number of levels. Your hormones go wild, and sometimes you don’t even recognize the things coming out of your mouth. You don’t think the same way, and your body changes dramatically. Lower back pain, bloated ankles, cramps and constant trips to the bathroom are all the less than glamorous side effects of a healthy pregnancy, but possibly the worst thing to contend with is difficulty sleeping. Your center of gravity changes as your belly grows, and you might not be able to get comfortable in the same way. Your mind is constantly cycling through the long to-do list you have to get through before the baby comes, and sometimes even when you’re exhausted you can’t get any rest. Luckily there are ways to help even things out. Here are five tips for getting better sleep when you’re pregnant.
There have been conflicting reports for years over which substances you can and cannot have when pregnant. Ever since the corporations finally admitted that smoking is bad for you, pregnant women have double-checked all the research and generally avoided substances you might consider on the bubble. Most reports these days now say it is safe to have a little bit of caffeine each day, something like one or two cups of coffee and as many as three or four cups of tea. But if you are going to indulge in that daily ritual, definitely keep it to 1pm or earlier. The effects of caffeine stick with you much longer when you are pregnant, and having even a little bit in the afternoon or evening could keep you up at night.
Make sure you take some naps, but that you time them out properly. You are growing a little person inside you, and that is hard work! A nap of thirty or sixty minutes will do wonders, and help cut down on the exhaustion you might feel from not sleeping through the night. It’s something you can do almost every day without a problem. But make sure that you structure your naps correctly. If you nap for too long at one time it can mess up your sleep cycle, and the same goes for napping late in the day. Keep it to early or mid-afternoon for best results.
Sometimes your sleep problems are actually caused by other pregnancy habits that are completely healthy. For example, doctors suggest you drink at least 64 ounces of water a day, to help the baby develop in a healthy way. Yet as your baby grows she can push up against your bladder, which is part of why you find yourself going to bathroom what seems like every ten minutes. Drink the majority of your fluids before mid-afternoon and you should be able to cut down on those bathroom trips.
You should also try to avoid rigorous exercise at night. Your body needs time to relax after a workout, and the hour or two before bed isn’t the best time to do that. You need to prepare your body for deep sleep, so plan your intense exercise for at least three hours before you want to go to bed. Replace your nighttime workout with yoga or stretching, which will help you relax physically and mentally.
Finally, do whatever you must to give your mind a break. Stress and anxiety are common during pregnancy, and they can really ruin your night. Keep a journal by the side of your bed and use that to write your lists, compose a California cryobank review, or get those new baby names out of your head and down on paper. And if you find you are laying awake tossing and turning, get up for a little while. Read a book or do some deep breathing exercises. It’s always better to focus on something else for twenty minutes or so, instead of laying there wishing you could get to sleep.