Sleep and Pregnancy

Last updated: December 2020
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Have you ever wondered why, as a pregnant woman, you are subjected to a stream of restless nights? Well the simplest reason is this: to prepare you for the many sleepless nights you will get after baby is born!

During pregnancy, it’s not uncommon to contend with many sleep disturbances usually the result of anxiety and stress, hormonal fluctuations, and discomfort so it’s no wonder expectant mothers become so tired.

Even though you may be suffering from aching legs, back pain and other discomforts, there are certain things you can do to fall asleep faster and to sleep better.

Tips for better sleep when pregnant

  1. Drink plenty of fluids during the day but cut down before bedtime to minimise frequent trips to the loo.
  2. Exercise regularly for health and to improve circulation – helps with leg cramps. But don’t exercise too close to bedtime or you might struggle to fall asleep.
  3. Stress and anxiety prevent a good night’s sleep and there’s nothing quite like impending labour and birth to make you anxious. It can all be a bit daunting for first time mums (and second- or third-time mums!) but try to remember that worrying won’t help you. Talking to fellow mums or mums-to-be about your concerns can be very reassuring.
  4. Heartburn is common in pregnancy. Avoid large meals and spicy or acidic food. Smaller, more frequent meals will help with heartburn.
  5. Establish a wind down routine – a warm bath (not too close to bedtime) can help relieve tension, drink a cup of caffeine-free tea or hot milk, read a book or listen to some soothing music.
  6. If you’re not getting enough rest at night, take a nap. Find a quiet spot and relax, even if it’s only for half-hour.
  7. As your pregnancy progresses, you may find it more difficult to find a comfortable position. If you can’t get comfy in bed, use a pillow to support your body. For comfort, try sleeping on your side with one pillow under your knee and another under your stomach.
  8. If nausea is a problem for you, try eating frequent snacks like crackers throughout the day. Ginger is a great antidote to sickness.
  9. If you really can’t sleep, don’t lie there tossing and turning. Get up and do something relaxing like reading, listening to an audio book or soothing music until you feel tired enough to get back to sleep.

See your doctor for advice if concerns/problems persist.