Many pregnant women have sleep problems during pregnancy such as snoring, wild dreams, persistent problems in falling asleep or staying asleep and daytime sleepiness. Some women may experience ‘restless legs syndrome’ or an overwhelming urge to move the legs when they are at rest, which can be temporarily relieved by movement or applying pressure. Regardless of these problems, the correct sleeping techniques mentioned below will help increase your chances of getting a sound sleep:
- Give it importance! Sleep needs to be prioritized. We have discussed more on this under the section called ‘Sleep Hygiene’ (below).
- Drink a lot of liquids during the day, especially water, but reduce liquids before bedtime.
- To avoid nausea, which can interrupt your sleep, try to eat bland snack items during the day like crackers or biscuits.
- Sleep on your left side to improve the flow of blood to your baby.
- Install a mild “night-light” in the bathroom instead of turning on the full light – this will be less arousing to your eyes and help you return to sleep. This is relevant because in pregnancy, you will get up frequently to pass urine and that will disturb your sleep.
- Add daytime sleep or short naps to compensate for poor night-time sleep, as much as possible.
The following points are important in pregnancy, as otherwise. One or more techniques may help you get better sleep, although every case of sleep deprivation is different and unique.
- Know how much sleep you need. The recommended duration is 7-7.5 hours
- Sleeping daily at the same time is critical to maintain the biological clock. Avoid bedtime procrastination, which means delaying your sleep time at night.
- Set an alarm for the morning – at the same time daily – and get up at that time! This is critical, even if you had a disturbed or interrupted sleep the previous night. This ensures that your clock is not changed on a daily basis due to varying sleep times and duration and the brain sees its consistency.
- A quiet bedroom is important. If there in unavoidable ambient noise due to TV, children, pets or outside noise, use a ‘white noise’ mobile application. Choose from nature sounds, meditative music or quiet ambient sounds. These have proven benefits in causing a sound sleep.
- A dark room tells the brain that it is time to sleep. Keep your bedroom dark and cool. Reduce the brightness of your phone to avoid distractions due to notifications.
- The best temperature for falling asleep is 16-18 degrees Celsius.
- Use your bed only for sleeping. Use a comforting mattress and a blanket.
- Important: Keep the clutter away such as laptops, phones, tablets, TV remotes and chargers. Any kind of electronic distraction is against sleep hygiene! Perhaps the only useful item is the AC remote!
- You may be tempted to use gadgets but try not having any screen time for an hour before sleeping.
- Follow a bedtime routine such as turning off all electronics, taking a warm bath and/or reading a book before sleeping. This helps the brain adapt to a predictable ‘cycle’ before falling asleep.
- Avoid heavy meals before sleeping. They may make you feel “full” but they can cause a disrupted sleep in the middle of the night.
- Staying hydrated during the day is very important for a good sleep later at night. But avoid lots of fluids soon before sleeping as it may cause increased urination that is common in pregnancy, which can disturb your sleep!
- Coffee and alcohol intake should be reduced. Coffee should be avoided between 4 pm and 10 pm as latter-day caffeine levels in your blood can interfere with your night sleep.
- Light exercise will physically tire your body by the time you are ready to sleep. Brisk walking in the evening is an example. But avoid strenuous exercise, especially 3 hours before bed-time.
- Getting sunshine is equally important to set the biological clock and tell the brain that is time to be awake (not the artificial light of electronic devices!). So, try for a morning walk to combine physical activity with sunshine. This will energize you for the day and tire you by evening for a timely sleep at night!