The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) reports almost 40 million American men and women suffer from sleep disorders, with women usually being affected more than men. In one NSF poll, 78 percent of women reported suffering from disturbed sleep more during pregnancy than at any other time in their lives. Moms-to-be need their rest and can rely on several natural ways to improve sleep during pregnancy.
Ingesting sleep aids could pose potential harm to a woman’s unborn baby. Consider seven easy, non-medicated solutions for improving sleep during your pregnancy.
Lie on Your Side
Doctors often suggest expecting mothers should sleep on their left side with knees bent. According to the National Institutes of Health, this position helps the mom-to-be because it keeps the baby in a position that doesn’t put excessive pressure on the large vein that carries blood back to the heart from the legs, which can make sleep uncomfortable.
Purchase Some Pillows
During the second and third trimesters it’s not uncommon for pregnant women to suffer from lower back pain. Sleeping with a pillow between your knees can help relieve some of that pain. It may take a bit of repositioning to find the best pillow placement for the most comfort, but with less pain the sleep experience will improve.
Replace Your Worn-out Mattress
Sleeping on an ancient mattress that has lost its spring and support can cause sleep disturbances for anyone — pregnant or not. However, a worn-out mattress plus pregnancy often equals extra sore backs, hips and restless nights. Keep your budget on track by shopping closeouts and finding deals at events such as Macy’s mattress sale. Luckily this is an investment that will keep giving long after baby is born.
Deep Breathing & Visualization
Practicing deep breathing before falling asleep can act as a stress reducer, allowing for a better night’s sleep. Lie on your back or side, depending on your trimester. Take a deep breath and focus on filling and releasing the air from your lungs. Before releasing each breath, hold it for 2-3 seconds and then exhale through your nose slowly. This technique helps to relax muscles, ease tension and even lower your heart rate.
Like deep breathing, visualization can help reduce tension, relax muscles and transport your mind to a happy place. Practicing visualization before sleep may help reduce sleep troubles for moms-to-be. Simply picture your happy place — a tropical beach, a beautiful garden or whatever transports you to a quiet, peaceful state of mind.
Regular exercise, even light, helps the human body sleep better, reports the NSF. The less time spent during the day sitting, the better you may sleep at night. Before beginning any exercise activities, moms-to-be should talk to their doctor.
Avoid Certain Foods and Drinks
While you may crave specific foods during pregnancy, some can affect the quality of your sleep. Any spicy or acidic foods can trigger heartburn, which often flares when you lay down. Even drinking too much water close to bedtime can have a negative impact on sleep. Reduce your fluid intake closer to bedtime to help reduce the need for nighttime bathroom visits.