Forget about the food cravings, aching feet, and bouts of tears – pregnancy can wreak absolute havoc on our hormones, bodies, and general wellbeing. We eat too much ice cream, find ourselves crying during Disney movies, and fight the urge to spend our entire salary on Amazon. In all seriousness, though, pregnancy is a very interesting time for the body, and one of the areas most affected during this time is sleep – this is particularly true during the last few months of pregnancy. In order to understand why, though, we need to have a quick look at some of the changes experienced whilst carrying a child:
I already mentioned the ice-cream, right? Well, pregnancy goes hand-on-hand with a bit of extra weight: not only do your hormones dictate that you increase your calorie intake in order to provide nutrients to your unborn, they also ensure that you’re maintaining a steady level of regulatory chemicals in the blood stream. Sometimes, though, the body craves unhealthy snacks and junk-food, all of which can cause imbalances and cause weight gain. Here’s the crux, though: weight gain can lead to disturbed sleep in the form of sleep apnea and general discomfort. The body isn’t used to rapid weight gain as experienced during pregnancy, so sleep quantity and quality may suffer.
While there is so much joy in the expectation of a baby, anxiety can often accompany pregnancy. The pressure of a child on the way often affects mom’s mood and behaviors, oftentimes leaving her feeling listless, down, and anxious. Of course, chemistry once again plays a role, here, with hormone levels fluctuating during pregnancy. The more anxious one is, the less peaceful sleep can be: disturbed dreams, nightmares, and general night-time anxiety can cause a wave of insomnia.
Alongside weight gain and depression, back pain can also surface as a result of pregnancy. Not only does the baby bump add a little more pressure on the back, but posture and gait are both affected, too. And yes, that’s right… back pain can easily cause disturbed sleep or, in many cases, no sleep at all!
Ah… you know what this feels like, right? You finally found a comfortable spot and then you get the unavoidable urge to move your legs… it’s annoying, right? Well, when you’re pregnant and trying to fall asleep, restless legs can be one of the worst afflictions out there. The pain associated with forcing yourself not to move is unbearable, but every movement drags you further away from dreamland. It’s a catch-22!
Because the digestive system slows down in the later stages of pregnancy, heartburn is a common issue for many women. The distinct burning sensation associated with heartburn can leave you feeling out of sorts, not to mention wide awake!
All these changes obviously directly affect the quantity, quality, and ease of sleep. And when sleep is neglected, the above issues become exacerbated: it’s a dangerous cycle. Happily, there is a way out. It stands to reason that, if the above changes are regulated via healthful, safe methods, then your sleep quality and quantity will return. So, here’s how you can make that happen:
Proper Pillows for Support
Be sure to be properly supported during sleep: use a pillow under your stomach and ensure that you place one between your knees so as to support your spine. Not only will you feel more secure during the night, but you’ll also be alleviating your back pain.
Stretches Before Bed
Stretching will help your muscles relax before bed; it will also ensure that you’re able to let go of the built up tension from the daytime hours. Stretching primes your body for bedtime and gives you a good foundation to tackle the night ahead.
Ensure that a strict routine is followed before bed; eliminate screen time, drink an herbal tea, and read or listen to a podcast. Repeat the same routine each night so as to form relatable, lasting habits that set you up for success.
Reduce sugar, fizzy drinks, and processed food – focus on healthy protein and vegetables. Opt for healthier snack where possible and satiate your cravings by getting creative in the kitchen.
Drink Plenty of Water
Water is a must during your pregnancy and beyond! Not only does it help eliminate harmful chemicals from the body, but it regulates blood sugars and hormones, too. So, get drinking! You need to drink between 1.5L to 2L of water per day.
If you’re struggling to fall asleep and you find the idea of getting into bed for the night daunting, then we invite you reach out to one of our professional, friendly physical therapists, right now. You may be surprised to know that physical therapy is about so much more than aching muscles; in fact, with physical therapy you could be accessing the best sleep of your life, even during your pregnancy. During physical therapy, you’ll learn about the best posture during your slumber, the best ways to stretch during your pregnancy, and ways in which to exercise and stay active so as to tackle both mental and physical slumps. Physical therapy is the safest way to access restful sleep not only while pregnant, but well into the future, too.
If you’re tired of counting sheep and staring at the same spot of wallpaper night after night, then it’s time to make a change. We hope the above tips have given you a good place to start from, and should you have any other questions please don’t hesitate to contact us. We want the best for both you and your child, and we certainly want you to sleep well! So, we look forward to hearing from you!