Natural Sleep Strategies During Pregnancy

Lynsey Keep, RN
Getting a good night's sleep

Many women suffer from sleep problems while they are expecting, making it important that they find natural sleep strategies during pregnancy. Sleep is a crucial requirement during pregnancy to ensure that the mom-to-be recharges her batteries and has enough energy to support both herself and her unborn baby.

Sleep Problems during Pregnancy

Most women suffer from sleep disturbance at some point in their pregnancy. Common problems encountered include:

  • Anxiety - women can be anxious and restless in the early weeks of pregnancy. This can be driven by fear and, to a degree, excitement about the journey ahead.
  • Frequent urination - this can occur at various stages of pregnancy and can lead to higher than normal trips to the bathroom at night, thus impinging on sleep.
  • Inability to get comfortable - some women, particularly in the third trimester, struggle to find a comfortable sleeping position due to the increasing size of the bump.
  • Leg cramps - another common pregnancy problem that many women experience, particularly at night.
  • Heartburn - this may be experienced for the first time during pregnancy and can cause some women serious discomfort as acid indigestion develops, made significantly worse by laying flat.
  • Active baby - some babies remain quiet at night and move so softly that moms don't even notice. Others, however, have nocturnal patterns and are constantly on the move at night, giving mom no peace.

Although none of the problems above are serious or life threatening, such problems can be an issue as the pregnancy progresses for a woman who is increasingly tired and in need of decent sleep.

Natural Sleep Strategies during Pregnancy: Find What Suits You

Some natural sleep strategies during pregnancy are based on simple common sense. The most common practical solutions include:

  • Avoid caffeine-based drinks toward the end of the day - if you are a tea or coffee addict, refrain from drinking in large quantities as the caffeine will naturally stimulate the body and mind. Try drinking camomile tea, as this is known to have calming properties.
  • Don't eat large meals in the evening - pregnant women find they become fuller more easily and, with a belly full after a large evening meal, problems such as indigestion and reflux will only be made worse with food sitting in the stomach.
  • Avoid excess fluid intake - if the bladder is full when a woman goes to bed, she will need to empty it over the course of the night. Be wary not to drink too much fluid volume in the hours prior to bedtime as "what goes in must come out" and the need to urinate is already increased during pregnancy.
  • Take a relaxing bubble bath - in doing so, the body and mind are given time to wind down and get into 'sleep mode'. The warmth of the water will sooth aching limbs and any backache experienced during pregnancy, which can cause sleep discomfort. Despite much debate, the use of 100 percent pure lavender oil when added to the bathwater can aid a good night sleep.
  • Take gentle exercise - enjoy a gentle walk or embark on the art of yoga. Many women discover that this can aid relaxation and better sleep. In doing so, the body and mind are then naturally prepared to shut down for the nighttime period.
  • Massage techniques - some women find that massage during pregnancy can be incredibly relaxing and calming. If performed by a qualified therapist, the use of certain oils during massage is believed to aid sleep.
  • Get comfortable - even if it means buying a pregnancy pillow or a wedge to cuddle up, some pregnant women find that they require additional support in order to find a comfortable sleep position.
  • Eat protein packed snack - some women suffer from disturbed sleep due to bad dreams, headaches, and insomnia. These can all be attributed to low blood sugar, so eating snacks such as eggs, turkey, or peanut butter can help maintain the blood sugar levels overnight.

Be Wary of Gimmicks

Despite trying a combination of the above remedies, some women still have sleep problems. There are many products on the market that, when used outside of pregnancy, offer effective aid to sleep. Over-the-counter sleep remedies, even the herbal variety, are not recommended during pregnancy and advice still maintains that practical measures are the safest for both mother and unborn baby.

Be wary of gimmicks such as electronic massagers and sleeping pills as the small print always advises to avoid during pregnancy. If at all concerned about the amount or quality of sleep received during pregnancy, these issues are best discussed with an obstetrician who can make decisions based on individual circumstances. It is always best to stick to natural sleep strategies during pregnancy but, in some cases, women may need to take prescribed medication, which requires careful monitoring.

Natural Sleep Strategies During Pregnancy