When you’re expecting a newborn, you’ll no doubt be expecting sleepless nights once the baby has arrived, but did you know that sleep during pregnancy can be just as difficult? Hormone changes can affect your circadian rhythm and the quality of your sleep – leaving many women feeling unrested when they wake up.
During the first trimester of your pregnancy, you’re likely to feel tired because your body is working to nurture your developing baby. Your heart is pumping faster, your body is making more blood and the placenta is just forming. You may also need to pass urine more frequently, which can disturb your sleep.
The main reason behind sleep problems during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy is discomfort. When your foetus has grown, it can be hard to get comfortable.
Calf muscle cramps during pregnancy are also very common and can affect the quality of your sleep, especially in the third trimester when the demands of magnesium can outweigh the supply.
While insomnia can be caused by hormonal changes during the first trimester, many women report poor sleep later in their pregnancy as a result of stress. Whether it’s stressing out about labour and giving birth or worries about finances and managing work – it can all take its toll.
Other common causes of poor sleep during pregnancy include:
- Sore breasts
- Back pain
- Shortness of breath
- Vivid dreams
- Nausea and vomiting
What can you do to improve the quality of sleep during pregnancy?
It’s not all bad news, with proper nutrition it is possible to improve your sleep when pregnant. That means consuming a small amount of the right foods an hour before bed, including:
- Almonds and walnuts that contain magnesium and are a great source of the sleep regulating hormone, melatonin.
- Bananas also contain magnesium as well as tryptophan, which is the precursor to melatonin and serotonin.
- Oily fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel contain Omega 3, vitamin D and melatonin – all of which can encourage a normal sleep pattern.
Is there anything else you can do to improve your sleep when pregnant?
The good news is that there are multiple ways of encouraging restful sleep when you’re expecting. Along with the above nutritional tools, practical tips include:
- Using lots of cushion support between your knees and under your belly for maximum comfort.
- Try to reduce interruptions from blue light, electrical devices and artificial lighting.
- Wear lightweight, breathable pyjamas to keep cool.
- When you’re pregnant, it’s great to establish a sleep routine that works for you. This could include a warm bath, soft lights, relaxing music and getting into bed at the same time each night.
- Eliminate stimulants such as exercise, caffeine, and chocolate before bed.
- Pregnancy yoga and other relaxation techniques like meditation can help you deal with underlying stress that can negatively impact on your sleep quality.
Getting good quality sleep during pregnancy is key for both you and your baby. When you’re sleep-deprived, your immune system can suffer and, since sleep also helps to regulate your blood sugar levels, it can trigger gestational diabetes. To learn all about gestational diabetes, read my popular blog post that includes tips and advice on how to prevent it.
Pregnancy naturopathy can help
If you’d like tailored information about how to get the best sleep and how naturopathy can help you achieve the most positive pregnancy possible, book an appointment with me today.