Sleep during pregnancy.

Rise and shine mumma bear!

Sleep in pregnancy is a complicated task at best. From extreme daytime sleepiness in the first trimester, to feeling like you need potty training to get through one night, plus that restless leg, blocked nose, backache, heartburn, the unusual dreams and bubs kicking like they are earning their black belt.

All of this can leave us feeling like an emotional wreck with each passing day. 

So how much sleep should I be getting? For the average adult, 7-9 hours of sleep is the general guide. But with all those interruptions, you can only do your best. Know that there are some out of your control, but there can definitely be somethings that we can do to improve the routine.

Keep watch of any worsening signs. If you are snoring excessively and your breathing is impacted, or you find yourself waking after not breathing for a few seconds, speak to your doctor about it. It could suggest that less oxygen is getting to your body and brain, and likewise to baby as well. 

From a habitual point of view, set a regular routine with a wind down period about 1 hour before bed (bath, warm drink, reading, limiting stimulants. Yep, that means this phone you're holding!)

Foods to help with sleep:

Foods containing tryptophan (an amino acid, which is the base unit of proteins) is known to cause sleepiness and relaxation. The highest content can be found in can be found in foods like lean proteins (meat, chicken, fish) and low-fat dairy. Combining foods that are high in tryptophan with healthy, complex carbohydrates (hello whole grains!) can also make help with snoozing more easily. 

Many fruit and vegetables, and nuts (especially almonds and walnuts) contain melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate the sleep/wake cycle. Whilst the research on ingested melatonin to support sleep shows only small improvement, it can be an addictive effect with other sleep habits and strategies.

Focus on hydrating throughout the day, rather than closer to bed time. Aim for the guide of 1.5 to 2 litres per day. Limit caffeine in pregnancy to 200mg per day, keeping mind that there are a many foods and drinks that contain caffeine. Avoiding these at least 4 hours prior to bedtime can reduce the peak stimulant effects of that keep us wide-eyed.

All of these are in line with the core foods we need daily according to the dietary guidelines for pregnancy and during breastfeeding.

Exercise and sleep

Keeping regularly active can also help with a regular sleep routine and with quality of sleep itself. Getting outdoors during waking hours can allow for your body's circadian rhythm to be in sync with day and night hours. The recommendations of 150 of moderate intensity activity is showing more and more that getting to sleep and staying asleep is easier for those who are meeting these physical activity recommendations than those who don’t. And as a plus, it is a strategy to managing a healthy rate of weight gain throughout pregnancy, which can also impact on sleep quality.

With all of this in mind, if the night doesn't go perfectly, try not to count every less hour of sleep. Work on what you can control. Get as much rest as you can, even little naps in the day or staying in bed longer, especially in the last trimester.

And if all that fails, trust in the process of nature just preparing you for what is to come!

If you are struggling with sleep, click on the following links to find support you need:

National Sleep Foundation 

Pregnancy Birth and Baby

Photo credit: @not_a_regular_mama

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