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Difficulties Sleeping During Pregnancy

Sleep in pregnancy

As baby grows larger, you may find sleep becomes more difficult.  There are a number of things that can make sleep difficult, from trying to get comfortable while accommodating your baby bump, to heartburn or restless legs.  Here are a few difficulties you may encounter and some ways to deal with them.

  • If you’re a stomach sleeper, the baby gets in the way.  Don’t worry about hurting the baby, though, you’ll feel uncomfortable before you harm the baby.  Use a body pillow take pressure off your belly and still feel comfortable.
  • If you’re a back sleeper, you may find lying on your back causes you to feel nauseated or dizzy.  This is due to the baby placing pressure on major blood vessels in your back.  Try using pillows behind your back and between your knees.  If you simply can’t get comfortable, try elevating your upper body with pillows or a wedge.
  • You may find lying on your right side exacerbates heartburn or indigestion.  Try eating smaller meals, avoiding late night meals and avoiding foods, such as spicy foods, that trigger heartburn.  If you still have heartburn, many antacids are safe to take while pregnant.
  • You may find yourself waking frequently to use the bathroom.  You can minimize this by avoiding caffeine and alcohol (both diuretics) and drinking plenty of water early in the day, and less in the last few hours before bed.
  • Restless legs sounds like an imagined problem, but it isn’t.  The overwhelming urge to move can become painful when you try to ignore it.  Exercise can help, but you don’t want a full workout right before bed.  Try a walk through the neighborhood after dinner.  Sitting or lying down can make the problem worse, so hold off going to bed until you’re actually tired and ready to sleep.  When all else fails, there are supplements that can help, such as magnesium, iron or folate.  But talk to your doctor or midwife before adding supplements.  Your prenatal vitamin has these nutrients and you need to be careful not to get too much.
  • Many women experience very vivid, and sometimes disturbing, dreams while pregnant.  For the most part, this is just a result of waking so frequently.  People who don’t wake as often are less likely to remember their dreams in great detail.  Some dreams may reflect worries about the pregnancy, delivery or child-rearing.  Keeping a dream journal can help you figure out what your subconscious may be trying to tell you.
  • If you get hungry in the night, try a light snack before bed.  Be careful that you don’t eat too much, or you may find yourself plagued by heartburn or indigestion.
  • If the weather allows, open your bedroom window.  The cool night air can help you drift off.  If the weather is uncooperative, nudging the thermostat down or turning on a fan can also help.
  • Try some relaxation exercises, such as meditation or deep breathing, to help quiet your mind.  This can be especially helpful if you’re prone to lying awake worrying.
  • Try a nightlight in the bathroom to help you see when you do get up at night.  If you have to turn on the overhead light, it can make getting back to sleep more difficult.
  • If all else fails, talk to your doctor or midwife about an over the counter sleep aid.  Not all of them are safe during pregnancy, and the ones that are may not be safe for every pregnant woman.  That said, Unisom has been recommended for use by pregnant women for decades.

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