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The Ultimate Guide To Better Sleep During Pregnancy

Posted on 1/04/2023 in Well-Being

Pregnant women will often receive the advice, “Get as much sleep as you can now, when the baby comes you won’t get a wink!

Sadly though, many women experience difficulty either getting to sleep or staying asleep during pregnancy. There are a number of reasons why sleep may elude a pregnant woman, and because this isn’t a topic we see commonly discussed, we want to assure you that it’s perfectly normal!

Some of the changes your body will go through during pregnancy are widely spoken about, others not so much. We don’t talk nearly as much about restless legs as we do about your breasts getting bigger, for example!

It may surprise you to learn that sleep is a pain point for most women at some point during their pregnancy, and that the causes for disturbed sleep in pregnancy span across physical, mental, environmental and lifestyle factors.

The good news? Some of the best sleep solutions are the most simple - and free! Let’s dive into the causes - and the solutions - for disrupted sleep during pregnancy.

 

How can Pregnancy Affect your Sleep?

The three most common things that affect sleep during pregnancy are:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Physical discomfort, such as back pain or tender breasts
  • Frequent urination.

No surprises there - you’re experiencing a surge in hormones, and a tiny human is resting on top of your bladder! If your nausea is long-lasting or if you are concerned, please make sure your primary health care provider is aware, and monitoring you closely.

Other factors that affect sleep in pregnancy include:

  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Leg cramps
  • Your baby moving around
  • Heartburn
  • Anxiety
  • Snoring
  • Irregular uterine contractions

Sleep-disordered breathing conditions, such as sleep apnoea, can also worsen during pregnancy. As above, if you’re concerned, please visit your primary healthcare provider.

You may also find that you’re more tired during the day, particularly in your first trimester. Keep an eye on the length of your naps during the day, if you can, so you don’t throw out your sleep schedule at night.

The Secrets to Perfect Sleep During Pregnancy

A solid 8 hours of sleep may seem impossible if you’re struggling to get to sleep or to stay asleep, but there are some tricks you can try to optimise your circadian rhythm and your level of comfort during the night.

 

Regular Sun Exposure

A good nights’ sleep starts first thing in the morning. Really!

Just 20 minutes of sun exposure in the morning can help you get a better sleep that night. Melatonin (the hormone that regulates your circadian rhythm) is responsible for telling your brain when it’s time to sleep.

By exposing yourself to sunlight in the morning, you’re essentially signalling to your brain that it’s time to wake up, shutting off the sleep hormones and triggering cortisol - yes, that cortisol responsible for your flight-or-fight response. A rise in cortisol is normal in the morning. In fact, it’s essential to shake us out of our slumber and get us going for the day!

Get out for a walk or enjoy your morning cuppa in the sun; just remember to pop on some sunscreen, and don’t stay out in direct sunlight for too long, particularly in the summer months.

 

Support Your Back for Better Sleep

As you get further along in your pregnancy, aches and pains - particularly back ache - can interrupt your sleep. And it’s hardly surprising, when you’re carrying more weight on the front than you usually would!

Our solution? Maternity support wear.

Support wear helps to support your belly, relieving the pressure on your lower back. And you’re not restricted to one style, either!

Choose from:

  • a traditional belly band
  • over-bump shorts
  • long length tanks, or
  • nursing slips

Each of these pieces offers superior support, shifting your baby’s weight into a more favourable position and taking the strain off your lower back.

Gone are the days when beige cottontails were your only option, maternity wear has come a long way - and the styles and fabrics are just gorgeous! Head on over to the Maternity Support Wear section of our website to browse the range.

 

Maintain a Regular Bedtime

The experts say we should aim to get 7-9 hours of sleep a night, but which is more important: your bedtime, or how long you sleep?

It may surprise you to learn that going to bed at the same time each night, regardless of when you intend to wake up, is one of the best ways to ensure that your sleep quality remains consistent.

This is where your circadian rhythm comes into play again. Our bodies love routine, even if that routine disrupts our Love Island viewing plans!

While studies into the best time to go to sleep have been primarily focused on heart health, it’s worth noting that your Pineal gland, which regulates the production and secretion of melatonin, does appear to be the most active between the hours of 10pm - 2am, so ideally, being asleep before 10pm will help the Pineal gland regulate your melatonin levels efficiently.

Create a Restful Environment

You don’t have to crank up the binaural beats and light loads of candles to create a relaxing sleep environment (but if that is your thing, go ahead, Just be fire safe!).

While it may be tempting to crash out on the couch, making the effort to sleep in a bed will give you a more restful sleep, not to mention more room to stretch out! It’s that routine thing again: our brains like order and routine, so if you can, try to sleep in your bed - even for naps.

Creating a restful environment can be as simple as using lamps instead of overhead lighting and making sure your space is tidy. There’s nothing relaxing about having to navigate the dirty-laundry gauntlet just to get to the bathroom!

While essential oils aren’t recommended during pregnancy, opening up your windows during the day (if it’s safe to do so) and letting some fresh air in can make a world of difference to your sleeping space, as can reducing the visual clutter in your bedroom.

Add some cosy blankets, fluffy cushions and a sleep mask? And you have yourself one luxe sleeping space!

 

Relax Your Body

As with most things when it comes to motherhood, there’s no one correct way to relax. If a long warm shower does it for you, great! If you find folding laundry or washing dishes therapeutic, go right ahead. The important thing is that you find a way to slow down and unwind at the end of the day to prepare your mind and body for rest.

The benefits of having an evening routine are really underrated. Remember how we said your brain likes routine? Well, that doesn’t just apply to the time you go to sleep - following a routine before you go to bed can signal to your brain that it’s time to switch off and get some rest.

Moisturise your feet (or get your partner to do it for you, if your bump is getting in the way!), do some light stretching, think about the things you’re grateful for that day... it doesn’t have to be complicated, just consistent.

Have Proper Sleepwear

You didn’t think we’d leave this one out, did you? Making sure you have the proper sleepwear is essential for a good nights’ sleep!

Look out for sleepwear that is:

  • Temperature appropriate, so you don’t wake up sweating or shivering
  • Supportive, if your breasts are feeling tender or starting to leak a little
  • Stretchy, if you move around a lot when you sleep

And don’t forget a robe, for those middle of the night trips to the bathroom! There’s nothing worse than getting chilly and then struggling to get back to sleep.
Pro tip: remember to pack it in your hospital bag, too - you’ll thank us later!

 

Proper Sleeping Position

The one thing all the experts seem to agree on is this: sleeping on your left side is the optimal position for sleep during pregnancy, particularly in the third trimester.

This position helps your kidneys get rid of waste and fluids more efficiently, and is suggested to increase the flow of blood, and therefore nutrients, to your uterus - and by extension, your baby.

We recommend getting used to this position in your first and second trimester, as it can be difficult to transition later in your pregnancy. Pop a pillow between your knees and one behind your back to support your pelvis and hips, and to keep them in a comfortable position.

Find Everything You Need For Maternity Today!

At Queen Bee, we’re Mums ourselves, so we’re very fussy about the pieces we carry. Everything we stock has to pass the Queen Bee comfort test, and be designed with a woman’s ever-changing pregnant body in mind.

We’ve curated some of our favourite pyjamas, robes and nighties for you here.

Our team are available to answer any questions you may have, and don’t forget to use the Wishlist option to help friends and family out with gorgeous gift ideas!

 


Queen Bee Maternity

 



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