Sleep Deprivation in Pregnancy
Sleep deprivation is obviously very common when your baby is born as you have to get up throughout the night to feed them.
However, you may also have to put up with sleep deprivation throughout your pregnancy as the pregnancy hormones swirling around in your body cause all sorts of problems that will cause you to wake up throughout the night.
Sleep deprivation can start in the first trimester of your pregnancy. This is when morning sickness starts, which can cause you to wake frequently in the night, but you are also more likely to wake up in the night needing to use the bathroom. Heartburn, hunger, leg cramps, vivid nightmares and restless leg syndrome are also very common in the first trimester of pregnancy.
In the third trimester of pregnancy, it’s likely that you’ll be up and down during the night very frequently due to your baby pressing down on your bladder. Sleeping can also be uncomfortable during the third trimester, as it can be difficult to sleep in your favourite position due to the size of your tummy.
It’s advised that you don’t sleep on your back after the first trimester, as this can put pressure on your blood vessels – however, this is easier said than done if you always sleep on your back. It’s best to sleep on your side – ideally, your left side, as this makes things easier on your circulatory system. If you’re not used to sleeping on your side, try propping yourself up with pillows.
How to aid sleep in pregnancy
There are a few things that you can do to help improve your sleep problems during pregnancy. Make sure that you steer clear of caffeine, as this is a stimulant and will keep you awake. Equally, make sure you keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water, but drink less a few hours before bedtime so that you reduce the need to urinate throughout the night.
Exercise is also thought to help with sleep, so if you are mobile and able to exercise, you should try to do a little each day as this will help you to sleep – just make sure you exercise in the afternoon or early evening, as exercising before bed will keep you awake.
Try taking a warm bath before bed with a little lavender bubble bath – lavender is known to help induce sleep, and the relaxing effects of the bubble bath should definitely help to send you to sleep. Try to keep the temperature in your bedroom cool as during pregnancy your temperature will be up and so you’ll need your room to be cooler so that you keep comfortable. Having a romantic night with your partner or even just a massage can also help send you to sleep.
Once you’ve had your baby and you’re suffering with sleep deprivation, there are plenty of ways to pep you up throughout the day. Have a fast, bracing shower with cool water and a revitalising shower gel. If needed, have a cup of coffee or tea to wake you up a bit more – just be aware that you do need to keep your caffeine levels in check if you are breastfeeding, and you should steer clear of caffeine after lunch so that it doesn’t keep you awake at night.
If you find yourself getting drowsy throughout the day, there are a few tips you can employ to pep you up a bit. Splash your face with very cold water, go and walk around outside or stand next to an open window, or drink a glass of cold water. Or, you could have a nap – when your baby sleeps that is ideal
Some new mums find that the very food they crave makes them tired and sluggish – pizza, burgers and other heavy foods can make you feel tired, whereas a diet made up of plenty of fruit, veggies, a little wholemeal carbohydrate and some lean protein will help to keep you awake and alert – and The Healthy Mummy Smoothie can really help here with energy and nutrition levels.
Sleep deprivation can really worry some new mums, especially if you’re not able to do things like the laundry or the cleaning. If this is the case, speak to your partner, family members or friends and see if they can help you out whilst you are feeling so tired. For instance, they could watch your baby whilst you take a nap, or they could help you out by doing your laundry whilst you catch up on other chores.
If you are feeling very overwhelmed and unable to cope or if you feel like you are unable to sleep at all, you should see your doctor to rule out any other problems.