Sleeping during pregnancy is no easy task. In the early months, you might wake because you’re hungry or feel sick. Later, you constantly have to go to the bathroom, your back hurts, you can’t get comfortable. You might even suffer from sciatica. And what about sleeping positions? Some recommend not sleeping on your back. With all of these issues and worries, it’s no wonder you can’t sleep!
Take a deep breath. It’s not as bad as it sounds. 🙂
First of all, prepare in advance for some discomforts.
Do these things before you sleep:
- Have a small, protein-filled snack, like an apple with peanut butter or a few slices of cheese
- Keep a small snack next to your bed (some crackers or nuts)
- Keep plenty of cold water next to your bed
- Make sure the path to the bathroom is clear (I fell once when I was pregnant and sprained my wrist…dizziness sure makes it hard to pick your way around obstacles!)
- Use a dim night light or two to light your path to the bathroom and inside it
- Try a white-noise machine to help you relax
- Get a body pillow or two, or a special pregnancy pillow
- Keep a low light and a book next to your bed (in case you have trouble sleeping)
Okay! Now you’re ready to sleep. The snack is so your blood sugar doesn’t drop and you don’t wake at night feeling sick and dizzy (it’s happened to me once or twice already when I ate refined carbs before bed…oops!). The other snack is in case you do wake feeling sick or hungry anyway, or for first thing in the morning.
I am serious about a clear path to the bathroom. You may not think and rise too quickly, and if you trip on something you could seriously hurt yourself. Just make sure you can walk easily! A night light or two will help also.
A white-noise machine is very helpful to relax you. If you prefer, soft classical music is nice, or even a TV on low. I don’t know what it is, but in the last few months of both my pregnancies so far, I had to have the TV on to fall asleep, and sometimes all night. When I’m not pregnant I can’t stand that, I just can’t sleep with the TV on. I watched Scrubs so often that I could tell from any given 5-second clip what season and episode was on, even if I was half-asleep. It was good because I love that show, and because it’s generally even-volume and no laugh track. It’s not a cartoon so no bright colors either. I know, I’m weird.
Body pillows — what can I say? They’re a pregnant woman’s best friend. Look at this Snoogle. I don’t have one (and I’m not affiliated with the company in any way), but I love this design. It goes between your arms, under your belly, between your legs, and also tucks around your head and back. You’ll like the extra back support when you are very far along, trust me.
I simply have two 4′ long body pillows, the type you can buy at any local store. The first one joins me in bed sometime around the end of the first trimester to tuck between my knees and under my (tiny) belly, and the second one joins me midway through the second trimester, behind my back. With these pillows, I sleep comfortably. My husband hates them. 🙂 He actually volunteered to wear a straitjacket to bed if it meant I’d use him as a pillow instead of getting these out!
With this “arsenal” of tricks, you can get much more comfortable in bed. That will help you sleep!
What about bathroom trips? You don’t want to limit liquids too much because you don’t want to get dehydrated. It could give you headaches and make it harder to sleep. Just make sure you go right before you go to sleep and make any trips as quick as possible!
Can you sleep on your back? The truth is, if you are comfortable on your back, especially if you are tipped slightly to one side or another, you are safe. The problem is when your nerves get compressed and you lose blood flow to the baby. But if this were happening, you would be uncomfortable and feel pain and strangeness that would cause you to change position before there was any damage. Let your comfort decide what position you sleep in. I often sleep on my back but tipped slightly to one side, even very late in pregnancy, and it’s never been a problem. If you are very heavy, it might be an issue, but again, it would be uncomfortable for you and you probably wouldn’t want to lie in that position anyway.
What about sciatica or other problems? Truthfully, you want to see a chiropractor so that you can hopefully deal with these issues. You can also use extra pillows (yes, even more pillows!) to prop yourself to a more comfortable position. The same goes for heartburn sufferers — use extra pillows to prop up. In that case, also try sipping lemon water or raw apple cider vinegar diluted in water (the problem is really too little acid, not too much).