It’s hard work growing a baby and when you’re pregnant, your under-stress body needs to get a decent night’s sleep more than ever. But the cruel reality is that this is a time in a woman’s life when sleeping well sleep becomes harder and harder.
Recent research has found more reasons why mums-to-be need their sleep, linking higher blood pressure in the third trimester with poor sleeping habits in the first three months of pregnancy.
But it’s not just women not getting enough sleep who are at risk – mums-to-be who oversleep (i.e. more than 10 hours a night) are also risk.
High blood pressure in the last trimester carries certain risks with it including decreasing blood flow to the placenta and increasing the chance of a premature delivery. Pregnant women who develop high blood pressure may also require extra monitoring.
What’s the perfect amount of sleep?
For a healthy blood pressure, pregnant women need 9 hours a night, say researchers. Try these 7 tips to help you get a good night’s sleep.
Establish a routine
It’s not only little babies who thrive on a sleep routine. By following a similar nightly ritual, you are preparing your body and mind for sleep.
Even early in the pregnancy when the bump is teeny, it can be hard getting comfortable. Legs cramp up or are jumpy, and your pelvic area can feel unsupported. Extra cushions and pillows strategically placed between or under your legs can do wonders – and you’ll need them by the third trimester.
Having a quick shut-eye of no more than 20-30 minutes during the day can lessen the pregnancy fatigue and make sure you’re not overtired. Just like with a baby, sleep promotes sleep, and being overtired can have a negative impact on the quality of sleep you get.
Avoid drinking a lot of fluids or eating a full meal within a few hours of going to bed at night. All those pregnancy hormones increase blood flow to the pelvic region from your first trimester on, putting pressure on your bladder and leading to the need to wee more frequently. Hormones are also to blame for a higher chance of getting heartburn, as they relax the sphincter valve at the entrance to your stomach.
Learn relaxation techniques
Practicing relaxation techniques before bed is a great way to wind down, calm the mind, and prepare for sleep. Some simple relaxation techniques include deep breathing, visualisation of a calm place and progressive muscle relaxation.
Get regular exercise…
…but not just before bed. Studies have found that we sleep more deeply if we build in some moderate daily exercise – just 20-30 minutes of walking should do it.
Keep your bedroom dark and cool
Especially at sleep time. Even dim lights—especially the flickering kind from a TV—can confuse the body clock. The temperature of your bedroom also affects sleep. Most people sleep best in a slightly cool and ventilated room (around 18°C). Consider using an air purifier to minimise pollutants and allergens in your room.