Good sleep is essential for your health. However, about half of pregnant women have trouble sleeping or remaining asleep. This is usually due to discomforts that can be resolved. Most will require a change in activity or diet. If self-care does not help, speak with your healthcare provider.
Pregnancy causes a lot of changes in your body. Your hormone levels, eating habits, and sleep cycle are likely to change. Some of the causes of sleep problems in pregnant women are:
- Frequent toilet visits. As your pregnancy advances, your pregnancy hormone levels also rise alongside your overall body water. This can increase the time you need to pee because your kidney now has more water to remove from your body. As your baby bump grows more prominent, it will start pressing on your bladder, leaving little room for it to hold more urine.
- Heartburn. Your pregnancy hormones can make the muscle that keeps the acid in your stomach relax. What this does is that your stomach acids can now travel up to your chest and cause heartburn. Your baby bump can also push up your stomach and cause heartburn.
- Back pain. As your pregnancy advances, you may start to feel back pain or some general discomfort from the baby bump. You may find it difficult to sleep in a certain way, and this may cause discomfort.
- Leg cramps or restlessness. You may notice some pains in your legs or a crawling sensation. Low calcium levels in your blood may cause it.
- Shortness of breath. This may be due to your weight gain or recurrent stuffy nose in pregnancy. This may make you wake up at intervals to catch your breath, disrupting your sleep.
- Anxiety. Being a new mum or expecting another child may make you worry about labour and caring for your child. When this worry becomes overwhelming, it may keep you up at night.
Getting enough sleep during your pregnancy is essential not just for you but also for your baby. It helps to calm your mind and keeps your body's defences strong enough to fight infections. Here are some tips to get your sleep back:
- Practising good sleep hygiene can improve how well you sleep. This involves having a bedtime routine such as going to bed at a particular time every day, taking a warm bath before bedtime and dimming the lights. You need to make sure your bed is comfortable for you (get extra pillows if you need to). Also, try to sleep in a quiet room to make your sleep more enjoyable.
- Try to eat your dinner early and slowly to prevent heartburn at bedtime. However, if you continue to have heartburn, you may need to take some antacid to relieve your symptoms. Remember that you need to discuss every medicine, supplement or herb with your healthcare provider before you take them. If you become hungry towards bedtime, you can take a healthy snack such as a piece of fruit.
- Light exercises such as a stroll in your compound can help to relieve your restless legs and make you tired enough to need some rest.
- While you may be tempted to reduce your water intake to reduce your toilet visit, it is not the way to go. Instead, drink at least 8 cups of water daily but reduce the amount you drink towards dinner. This means you should drink most of it during the daytime.
- Taking some time to meditate or relax can calm your mind. You may also express your worries to your partner or write them in your diary. This helps to distract your mind and keep it calm enough to allow you to sleep.