As your pregnancy progresses, chances are you will experience difficulty sleeping. The extra weight, getting overheated and leg pain are all conducive to a serious lack of sleep.
At a time when you’re already feeling exhausted, this is most unwelcome.
As a good night's sleep is crucial for both your wellbeing and that of the baby, here’s how you can make it easier to drift off.
Have you been tossing and turning all night? It’s harder to get off to sleep once you have a sizeable bump but there is one handy sleeping position you can try.
Sleeping on your left side increases the amount of blood and nutrients going to the baby.
During the third trimester, you won't be able to sleep on your back because the weight of the baby can compress the vena cava, the vein that transports blood to your heart. So snoozing on your left side is a good compromise.
As your baby grows, your womb expands, putting pressure on your other organs, particularly your bladder.
If you’ve been experiencing frequent toilet trips, then try avoiding fluids in the last three hours before bed. But have plenty during the day so you stay hydrated.
If you do have to get up for the loo, use a night-light to guide your way to the bathroom as even a few seconds of bright light can cause your brain to “wake up.”
Black-out curtains in your bedroom may also help you get back to sleep.
Anxiety and stress
Mums-to-be have lots on their minds and even if you are physically comfortable, it can be hard to sleep if you have worries, anxieties or feel under pressure to get things done.
Trying talking through your problems with a friend, writing down what’s bothering you in a journal or use a meditation app before bed.
Unfortunately for mums-to-be, once one unpleasant symptom ends, another can begin. This is especially true of heartburn in the second trimester. Once your nausea ends, you may experience acid reflux and heartburn.
This happens because your baby presses into your stomach, forcing stomach acid up into your throat. Meanwhile, hormone surges can loosen the muscles between your stomach and esophagus, allowing acid to leak.
You can keep it at bay by switching from your usual three meals into six smaller ones and be especially careful to avoid large meals before bed to give your body time to digest food. Take your time to fully chew your food, which will make your stomach’s job much easier.
If you’re starving in the evening try a snack that contains tryptophan, an amino acid which can make you sleepy.
This could be a banana, eggs, peanut butter or dairy. Try a few crackers with cheese, a whole-grain granola bar with a glass of milk, or peanut butter on whole meal toast.
Other helpful tips
If your bed doesn’t offer adequate support, try using a recliner if you have one. Put your feet up and support your arms and hands with pillows.
Sleep on your side with a pillow in between your legs. This helps align your spine and legs and will ease pressure on your sciatic nerve which can cause back and leg pain during pregnancy. A foam pregnancy pillow can help either.
Wear a belly band during the day. This will take some of the pressure of your groin, back and midsection. By the time you get to bed, your body won’t be as achy and it will be easier to drift off.
Avoid spicy foods as these can trigger heartburn and indigestion and caffeine as this can sending you running to the loo.
Try a wind-down ritual, such as taking a warm bath or reading for half an hour before bed. Cover your clock and turn your phone off- the light will only interfere with your sleep. Use a soft light in your bedroom or light a scented candle to help you relax.