Getting a good night’s sleep may seem like an impossibility during pregnancy.
From backaches to heartburn and frequent trips to the bathroom, many expectant moms are sleep deprived and downright exhausted.
We have good news for tired moms-to-be! Your pregnancy doesn’t necessarily mean nine months of sleepless nights.
Below is a list of 12 sanity-saving tips to help you rest comfortably tonight—and every night—as you await your baby’s arrival.
How to get better sleep during pregnancy
1. Routine is Key
It’s tempting to doze off whenever possible throughout the day, but a regular sleep schedule is what your body needs. Try to make a habit of going to bed and waking up at the same time. If you need to nap during the day, the earlier the better. Snoozing later may throw off your body’s natural rhythm, making it difficult to fall asleep at night.
2. Make Your Bedroom a Sanctuary for Sleep
Keeping your sleep space cool, dark, quiet, and comfortable will make you look forward to crawling into bed each night. It’s best to keep the thermostat set between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit (or about 16 to 19 degrees Celsius).
Don’t bundle up in warm clothing before hitting the sheets. Your body temperature fluctuates throughout the night, and the room’s temperature actually determines your body’s internal temperature during sleep.
Note: If you have a ceiling fan, turn it on to allow for better air circulation.
3. Pile on the Pillows
A comfortable sleep starts with a perfectly positioned pillow. Pregnancy experts recommend that expectant mothers should sleep on their side, preferably the left. Propping a pillow beneath your belly and between your knees can help boost your comfort level, especially if you previously enjoyed sleeping on your stomach or back.
There are some amazing pillows available that are specifically designed for pregnant women. Check out my article on the best pregnancy pillows to find one that’s right for you.
4. Enjoy Mindful Movement
With your doctor’s permission, schedule mindful movement into your daily routine. Take regular walks in nature or do gentle stretches. Movement can reduce stress and help with circulation, as well as aches and pains. It also improves mood and increases energy during the day, and promotes better sleep at night. Just remember not to exercise close to bedtime; earlier in the day is ideal.
5. Spice Isn’t Always Nice
Spicy foods can lead to heartburn, especially in pregnant women. Fried favorites and foods containing acid also tend to cause the burning sensation, making it nearly impossible to fall—or stay—asleep. If heartburn persists despite your new, slightly blander diet, try elevating your upper body with pillows. Raising the head of your bed may also help alleviate the discomfort.
6. Prepare Yourself for Z’s
It may seem obvious, but establishing a comforting bedtime routine will signal your body that it’s time for rest. Taking a warm bath or shower, drinking a cup of tea, and turning off your digital devices—including your cell phone—will help you relax before attempting to snooze.
7. Just Breathe
Breathing techniques or meditation will help to calm your mind and body. There are many apps available to walk you through the process. Surprisingly, only a few minutes a day can make a big difference in overall well-being. Breathing and meditation can also help with anxiety and worry, which are common during pregnancy and often lead to sleep problems.
8. The Truth About Fluids
Drinking plenty of water throughout the day has many benefits. Changing hormones, however, make your bladder fill more often during pregnancy; this means drinking fluids before bedtime may cause frequent nighttime bathroom trips.
Note: Don’t avoid fluids altogether. As mentioned above, water plays an important role in pregnancy. Keep fluids to a minimal before bedtime, but don’t be afraid to sip when you’re thirsty.
9. Consider Essential Oils
Be sure to check with your doctor before using essential oils during pregnancy. Denise Tiran—a midwife and expert in maternity complementary medicine—explains that using some essential oils is safe for healthy pregnant women. In an article for babycentre.co.uk, Tiran urges women to opt for high-quality oils and to only use a drop at a time. She notes that it’s best to use essential oils after the first trimester.
Some oils that are typically safe to use during pregnancy and may help you sleep include: lavender, bergamot, and chamomile.
Note: Women with health problems, including epilepsy, heart problems, vaginal bleeding, diabetes, and thyroid, liver, or kidney disease should avoid using essential oils.
10. Avoid Caffeine
Insomnia is often caused by stimulants, including caffeine. Avoiding caffeinated drinks and foods altogether is best during pregnancy.
11. Treat Yourself to a Bedtime Snack
Snacking before bed can help with nausea and morning sickness. Choose something bland, like crackers or toast, as spicier, fattier foods can cause heartburn and sleep disturbance.
12. Talk to Your Doctor
If you are still struggling to sleep despite your best efforts and nighttime routine, talk to your physician. It’s possible that insomnia may be the result of an underlying problem.
Moms-to-be, please be kind to yourselves. This pregnancy stuff isn’t easy, and sleep-deprivation makes it even harder. We hope our tips will help you get the good night’s sleep you need.