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Sleeping for Two: How to Get Your Best Night’s Sleep

February 20, 2012

When your alarm rang yesterday, you lurched out of bed drowsily, hoping that, without the assistance of your pre-pregnancy cup of coffee, you would make it through the morning. After a few yawn-inducing meetings at work, you polished off a sandwich at your desk and dreamed wistfully about the nonexistent possibility of a post-lunch nap. While you and your partner toweled off your 3 year-old after his bath, you found yourself spacing out in the middle of the conversation.

Finally, you made it to the couch for some much needed quiet time only to be awoken an hour later and told to go to bed! When you crawled into your bed, you breathed a sigh of relief, closed your eyes, and…felt a bit of heartburn creep into your chest. You tried to ignore it and pulled the blanket around your shoulders, but twenty minutes later you realized that you had to pee. After an uncomfortable hour or so, breathing through the heartburn, you fell asleep, only to wake up with your usual racing thoughts at 3am.

No wonder you were so sleepy at work yesterday! Pregnancy can really wreak havoc on your nightly sleep, starting just a few weeks in, with heartburn and frequent urination. To ease nighttime heartburn, stay away from large meals before bedtime, and cut out acidic foods like citrus, tomatoes, and chocolate. You can also prop yourself up with a few pillows to keep your acid reflux moving back down toward your stomach. And ask your obstetrician if over-the-counter antacids are an option for you.

The frequent urination that is a nuisance during the day can become really problematic at night. To stay hydrated, drink plenty of water throughout the day, but hold off on drinking beverages an hour or so before bedtime. If you do need to get up and use the bathroom, try to stay in a “sleepy” state while you do so. Don’t turn on lights or put on your glasses. Just shuffle into the bathroom and shuffle right back into bed!

In the third trimester, your belly will be at its most formidable, and the comfortable sleep positions you’ve naturally gravitated to throughout your life might be impossible now. Since you’re not conforming to your bed’s contours, make your bed conform to yours! If you’re sleeping on your side, you can put a pillow between your knees and arrange other pillows under your belly and your back for support. You can also try special pregnancy pillows, or wedges that can support your back and belly, and will come in handy as support for your baby while breastfeeding (love double duty items!). And while the books stress sleeping on your left side is best, it may not be the right position for you. Sleep in a position that is most comfortable for you. Remember, the more comfortable you are, the more relaxed you will be, and the better you will sleep!

And of course, many women are extremely excited during their pregnancies, and sometimes very anxious. Using a few stress reduction techniques on a daily basis can really make a difference at bedtime. Check out our post on relaxation exercises for assistance.

Put a few of these tips to the test and get a little extra rest! Remember, sleep problems during pregnancy are normal, and making an extra effort to get comfortable will pay off after a few nights of solid sleep!

Photography courtesy of Flickr.


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