There is perhaps no other topic that parents will unanimously agree is always top of mind once you have kids: sleep.
From sleep training and naps, to sleep deprivation and co-sleeping, parenthood is chock-full of issues about sleep, while decidedly lacking in actual shuteye.
But your battles with sleep, and lack of it, can begin well before baby arrives. Pregnancy has so many affects on your changing body, which can in turn impact the quality and quantity of your sleep.
There are thankfully, many tips and tricks moms-to-be can use to combat those sleepless nights.
At a certain point, your growing belly will prevent you from sleeping on your front, and sleeping on your back is not recommended as the extra weight will now compress your blood vessels and put pressure on your spine. To keep comfortable on your side, pillows are going to be your new best bed buddies. Tuck some in behind you and put one between your knees to relieve pressure on your lower back. Many women swear by the full-size body pillow for maximum sleep comfort at this stage – just be warned you may not want to give it up even after baby arrives.
Keep it cool
Research shows that we sleep better, when the temperature in the bedroom is cool versus warm, so turn down the thermostat, keep the window open or hook up a stationary fan. Making sure it’s nice and dark in your bedroom can help too, by using blackout blinds and removing any devices with bright electronic displays.
Warm it up
A comforting glass of warm or steamed milk before bedtime is another commonly prescribed trick that might help you relax into a good night’s sleep. Two substances in milk, the hormone melatonin and the amino acid tryptophan, are linked to sleep and relaxation, so that may be the reason generations of mothers have offered this drink to ease insomnia and nighttime restlessness. A warm bath or foot soak can be equally as relaxing, and a relief to the sore muscles that accompany pregnancy in the third trimester too.
You don’t have to be pregnant to benefit from daily fitness and activity when it comes to sleep, but by the third trimester, it does get more challenging to stick to your former exercise routine. Aiming for even just a daily walk and plenty of fresh air, combined with a healthy diet, can help you sleep more soundly during pregnancy and feel better overall as your due date approaches. Be sure to check with your doctor or health team to determine what’s best for you.
Catnap when you can
Lastly, we can look to our feline friends for inspiration on how to recover from sleepless nights: catch up on sleep during the day. If you have a rest or meditation room at your office, use it for a daily 20-minute catnap after lunch, or take a quick snooze at home before supper to ease your daytime fatigue. These brief power naps can restore your energy and alertness and get you through the rest of the day, plus it’s good nap practice for when you’ll really need it: after your baby arrives and round-the-clock feedings begin.
And don’t forget to check in with your doctor or midwife if you find that lack of sleep continues to be a concern, so you can come up with a plan to rest easy during your pregnancy.