We all expect lack of sleep after the baby is born but not many of us realise just how hard it is to get a good night’s sleep while pregnant.
There are a number of common pregnancy complaints that make it difficult to get to sleep – heartburn, frequent urination, restless leg syndrome are just a few. But often it is just a case of not being able to get comfortable due to your growing belly or an active, kicking baby inside!
So what else contributes to a lack of sleep while pregnant and what are some tips for getting a good night’s sleep? Here are some reasons you might not be able to sleep at night while you’re pregnant and some tips that could help you …
7 reasons you can’t sleep when pregnant
Pregnancy heartburn and indigestion
Pregnancy heartburn is terrible at any time of the day but seems to get worse when you lie down.
There are a few things you can try to ease pregnancy heartburn and indigestion including eating smaller meals, eating slowly, sleeping in a more upright position (more pillows), avoiding trigger foods (fatty foods, caffeine, cola drinks, chocolate) and taking antacid medication (talk to your health care provider about which ones are suitable).
Always needing to pee
Your kidneys are working hard to filter that extra blood, which also means you’ll need to pee more during pregnancy. Add to that a large baby using your bladder as a trampoline and you’ll be off to the toilet hourly overnight!
Continue to drink plenty of fluids while pregnant but try to avoid drinking anything 90 minutes before bedtime.
There are few things more painful that a leg cramp. It is sure to wake you up!
If you get a leg cramp stretch out the muscles through your heel until it subsides. If it lasts longer you can try a icepack to ease the cramping. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water during the day and perhaps do some light stretching before bed.
Restless Leg Syndrome
We don’t know much about what causes Restless Leg Syndrome but we do know that it is an awful feeling – and quite hard to describe. It is sometimes described as a dull crawling or tingling sensation in the legs and an uncontrollable urge to keep them moving. It certainly doesn’t help when you’re trying to sleep.
Restless Leg Syndrome has been linked to iron deficiency. It helps to get up and walk around for a bit and do some stretching. You can also try cutting out certain foods – including caffeine – to see if any are a trigger for you.
Nasal congestion and snoring
During pregnancy you might feel like you constantly have a stuffed-up nose which can interfere with your breathing as you try to sleep. You’re also likely to snore, which is probably impacting on your partner’s sleep more than your own.
Try a saline nasal spray which is safe for use during pregnancy and have a chat to your health care provider in case your snoring is linked to sleep apnea.
You just can’t get comfortable
Your growing belly makes it very difficult to find a good position to sleep in and you probably wake yourself every time you try to move. During pregnancy it is recommended that you sleep on your left side – it helps blood flow to the placenta.
Get into the habit of sleeping on your left side early in pregnancy. You will move in the night so you’ll end up sleeping on both sides but try to favour your left. Use pillows to support your belly. Sleep on your side with a pillow between your bent knees. Try a boomerang pillow as they are designed to support side-sleeping or buy a pregnancy support pillow to support your entire body as it sleeps.
You can’t stop thinking!
There’s a lot to think about while you are pregnant and there’s a lot to worry about too. Sometimes you just can’t switch off and every time you wake up in the night it takes forever to go back to sleep!
Try putting a nightlight in the toilet so when you get up in the night you don’t have glaring lights to deal with – might help you settle back to sleep quicker. Try counting instead of thinking – start with 1, 2, 3 … and then every time you drift off in a worry about baby names or maternity leave, catch yourself and start again at 1. Cut out stress by being organised – look for tips in our pregnancy hub or chat with other pregnant women in our pregnancy forum.