Every woman who has given birth knows that pregnancy has an effect on sleeping patterns, but they may not know that the reverse is also true; sleeping patterns can impact pregnancy. A study done by the UC San Francisco, School of Nursing found that sleeping habits can have a profound influence on delivery. According to the study, women who averaged less than six hours of sleep had delivery times that were significantly longer than normal; labor times were nearly twelve hours longer when compared to women who had seven hours or more of sleep each night. The rate of cesarean birth was also significantly higher for women who reported having disputed sleeping patterns.
How to Ensure a Good Night’s Sleep
During pregnancy, your sleep will undoubtedly be interrupted by bathroom visits, a kicking baby, leg cramps, and the inability to find a comfortable position. However, there are a few things that may help you attain the optimal amount of sleep.
Set a sleeping schedule and try to follow it during your pregnancy. Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day will help regulate your sleep/wake cycle. It is also recommended that you develop a relaxing pre-bedtime routine – taking a bath, reading, or listening to music.
- To cut down on nightly bathroom trips, drink less in the late afternoon and evening.
- Avoid heavy meals and spicy foods at night as these can cause heartburn. Allow at least three hours to digest your food before bedtime.
- Women often feel warmer when they are pregnant, so it is important to keep your bedroom cool when sleeping. Making sure to block out light and noise will also help you get more sleep.
Learning to use relaxation techniques at bedtime is great for inducing better quality sleep. These techniques include, deep breathing, guided imagery, and progressive muscle relaxation.
A woman’s normal sleeping position can be greatly impacted by pregnancy. This can obviously have an effect on the amount and quality of sleep for many pregnant women. When you first get pregnant, you should begin sleeping on your side. Lying on your side with knees bent will probably be the most comfortable position for sleep as your pregnancy progresses.
Sleep on your left side. Sleeping in this position helps blood and essential nutrients flow easily to the uterus, fetus, and kidneys. It also aids your body in eliminating waste. If you can get accustomed to this sleeping position in your first trimester, it will help you sleep better and longer when your belly gets larger in the second and third trimesters.
You should never sleep on your back for extended periods of time because it may put an inordinate amount of pressure on your back muscles, your spine and your intestines.
- Finding comfortable pillows may help you find the perfect position for sleep and allow you to have longer periods of rest.
Even if all the proper steps are taken to ensure a good night’s sleep, most pregnant women will experience bouts of restlessness during the night at some point of time. If this occurs, the worst thing to do is to stay in bed, tossing and turning, and worrying about your lack of sleep. The best thing to do is to get out of bed and do something that is relaxing to you – read a book, listen to good music. A good night’s sleep is an essential component of a healthy and happy pregnancy.