Pregnancy and Sleep

Tips to ensure a restful and healthy pregnancy.

As a sleep consultant, I'm keenly aware of my daughter's sleep habits. I'm also very conscious of my own! I am well into my third trimester and starting to feel like sleep is a precious commodity that I won't have in my life for a few months now. I'm exhausted!

Many women complain about how tired they are during pregnancy and of course there are many factors that contribute to that. In the first trimester, I was able to fall asleep easily (in any place at any time– even with my daughter playing right next to me!) but often woke at 3am to use the bathroom only to crawl back into bed and lie awake for two hours. Many women find that stomach upset keeps them awake during the first trimester as well.

The second trimester brought me more restful sleep, although it was still interrupted by many trips to the bathroom. Now, as I near my due date, I'm finding that things like worry, aches and pains, and my pressed-upon bladder are all keeping me up throughout the night. While I try to nap every day, working full-time and having a 4.5 year old sometimes make that difficult.

As with all sleep concerns, sleep hygiene is the most important "cure" to most adult sleep troubles. This is even more true during pregnancy. Here are some suggestions for things that all adults can do to help with sleep– especially when you're expecting:

  1. Sleep in a dark, cool room. Around 70 degrees Farenheit is ideal.
  2. Use white noise to drown out any household or neighborhood noises that may wake you.
  3. Try not to eat within two hours of bedtime. If you're nauseated and find that eating helps, try to limit your bedtime snacks to bland foods like pretzels, saltines, or toast.
  4. Stop exercising two hours before bedtime. If you're pregnant and still working out, I applaud you!
  5. Turn off all screens— including phones, tablets, TVs, and computers— an hour before bedtime.
  6. Try to keep your bedroom a space for relaxation. Don't do work in bed, try not to watch TV in bed. Your bed should be for sleeping, intimacy with your partner, and reading!
  7. Dim the lights as you get ready for bed. Darkness can help your body naturally produce melatonin, which makes you feel more sleepy.
  8. Try to go to bed at around the same time every night and wake around the same time every morning, aiming for around eight hours if you can.
  9. If you do wake in the middle of the night, don't turn on a screen. Instead, try reading, doing relaxation exercises, or writing in a journal. Keeping some paper and a pen by your bed to jot down any worries or things you want to remember will be helpful if you're someone who has trouble falling back to sleep.

As with your children, when you are pregnant, sleep should be a priority. Make sure you're establishing healthy sleep habits yourself as you begin to prepare for your new baby's arrival!