Catching Some Zzzz’s

By Lacey Krebsbach, MD Jun 20, 2017

“Sleep while you can,” that’s what everyone likes to tell expectant parents, especially first time parents. They like to scare you with horror stories about sleepless nights that turn into sleepless months and years. “You’ll sleep when they go to college.” They are joking, right….right?! Sleeping with a newborn or a toddler for that matter is a whole other issue. Sleeping in pregnancy can be challenging enough on its own.

Some women could sleep all the time when they are pregnant and some women constantly battle to get enough rest. Being pregnant makes you tired. Fatigue can come on rapidly in the first trimester because of your increased metabolism and progesterone hormone level causing you to feel physically exhausted and ready to nod off at a moment’s notice. After all, you are growing another human inside of you and that is hard work. As the baby gets bigger and heavier to carry your fatigue grows again in the third trimester making normal activities tiresome.

You may also find that nausea, vomiting, frequent urination, heartburn, back/hip/belly pain, anxiety, and very active baby movements will keep you up at night too. And, if you already have other children at home, you are no stranger to sleepless nights. You deserve a medal and an uninterrupted nap!

How can you sleep more comfortably when you are pregnant?

  • Get into a routine: try to go to bed at around the same time each night.
  • Get comfortable: take a warm bath, stretch your muscles-especially the back and legs to prevent cramps.
  • Get into position: sleep tilted to one side with pillows supporting your knees, back and belly. Lying on one side can help the baby get good blood flow, but if you roll over during the night onto your back do not panic, it is okay! Prop yourself up slightly to help with heartburn.
  • Limit distractions: keep your room comfortable and dark. Limit screen/phone time, TV watching and computer use in the bedroom.
  • Watch what you eat or drink: avoid caffeine in the late afternoon or evening, keep hydrated with water throughout the day but limit it at night. Don’t eat immediately before sleeping as this can increase heartburn. And avoid spicy and acidic foods at dinner if your heartburn flares up at night.
  • Exercise: regular daily activity will help with many aspects of pregnancy including sleep.
  • Relaxation: calming music or white noise, meditation, deep breathing can calm your restless mind.
  • Treat pain first: if you have back, hip, leg pain from a long day try a heating pad before bed or take Tylenol prior to laying down to help those aches.

If you have tried everything and still cannot sleep please talk to your doctor. We can make suggestions and recommendations that can help. Or at the very least we can reassure you that it is only temporary, you’ll sleep like a baby in 18 years!

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