- By Dana Sparks
Women’s Wellness: Sleep tips during pregnancy
Pregnancy can take a toll on your body. But as much as you need sleep during pregnancy, it doesn't always come easily. Understand how pregnancy affects sleep and what you can do to rest comfortably.
Why does pregnancy cause fatigue?
During early pregnancy, levels of the hormone progesterone increase and your metabolism is running high. This can cause daytime sleepiness and fatigue. If you have another child or children to care for, you could be even more tired.
How does pregnancy affect sleep?
A number of normal symptoms during pregnancy might affect or disturb your sleep, including:
- Nausea and vomiting (morning sickness)
- Frequent urination
- Physical discomfort, such as tender breasts and back pain
- Fetal movement
- Leg cramps
- Irregular uterine contractions
- Shortness of breath
- Restless legs syndrome
- Anxiety about labor and delivery
Sleep disorders, such as sleep-disordered breathing, also can worsen during pregnancy.
What sleep position is best?
Consider these tips:
- Favor your side.
Avoid sleeping on your back, which can put the weight of your uterus on your spine and back muscles. But don't worry if you wake up on your back.
- Use pillows.
Carefully placed pillows can help you get comfortable. Try placing a pillow between your bent knees or under your belly.
What can I do to rest comfortably?
You can take steps to manage sleep disturbances during pregnancy. For example:
- Set the mood.
A dark, quiet and relaxing environment and a comfortable temperature can help encourage sleep. Going to bed and getting up at the same time each day might improve your sleep health. Remove electronic devices from your bedroom.
- Keep active.
Regular physical activity during pregnancy might help you fall asleep more easily.
- Prevent heartburn.
Eat small, frequent meals and avoid eating three hours before bedtime. Sleeping on your left side with your head elevated can also ease heartburn symptoms.
- Practice relaxation techniques.
Doing them before bedtime might be helpful.
If you continue to have trouble sleeping during pregnancy, talk to your health care provider. One option might be a talk therapy program called cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia. This program helps you identify and replace thoughts and behaviors that cause or worsen sleep problems with habits that promote sound sleep. For severe and persistent sleep problems, low-dose prescription medication might help.