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How (And Why) to Improve Your Sleep Habits During Pregnancy

Jun 13, 2024 | Pregnancy

Around 80% of women report poor sleep during pregnancy, which is a major problem. Poor sleep is associated with a variety of pregnancy complications affecting mothers and babies. It also primes you for the low amount of sleep you’ll get as a new parent after your baby is born.

While you might not be able to avoid sleep disturbances and insomnia for your entire pregnancy, our team at The Association for Women’s Health Care can work with you toward better quality and more consistent sleep.

At our offices in The Loop in Chicago and Northbrook, Illinois, we provide attentive prenatal care geared toward optimizing your baby’s health and your own. This includes helping with sleep, diet, and other cornerstones of a healthy pregnancy and birth.

Why sleep matters during pregnancy

Not just any sleep, but good-quality sleep. Quality sleep is vital for everyone, as it has benefits for heart health, weight management, memory, and immunity. Each of these is particularly important during pregnancy. In fact, high-quality sleep should be a priority when you’re pregnant.

With poor sleep during pregnancy, you increase your risk of serious complications as well as general unpleasantness. Poor sleep during pregnancy increases your risk of experiencing:

  • Preeclampsia
  • Gestational diabetes
  • C-section delivery
  • Preterm birth
  • Anemia
  • Snoring and obstructive sleep apnea
  • Excessive weight gain
  • High blood pressure
  • Fatigue
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Increased pain during labor
  • Longer labor

While some sleep medications might not be safe during pregnancy, the good news is that you probably don’t need them anyway. There are plenty of strategies you can use to improve your sleep quality and quantity during your pregnancy.

How to get your best possible sleep

Even if quality, consistent sleep has eluded you for your entire life, better sleep is always possible. You might feel more tired every night while pregnant anyway, but good sleep still doesn’t always come easily.

Thanks to hormone fluctuations, stress levels, and general discomfort during pregnancy, quality sleep might be even more unattainable than before. Even if you have no trouble falling asleep, you might find yourself waking up throughout the night or experiencing daytime fatigue due to poor sleep quality.

To improve your sleep quality and consistency, consider your sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene describes the conditions for a good night’s rest. You should monitor your environment, bedtime routine, and habits surrounding slumber. You can improve your sleep hygiene by:

  • Using your bed only for sleep
  • Having the same bedtime every night
  • Removing electronic devices from your bedroom (e.g., televisions, smartphones, and tablets)
  • Investing in blackout curtains for a darker bedroom
  • Maintaining a bedroom temperature that feels comfortable to you

These sleep hygiene improvements can help anyone looking to get a better night’s rest. Here are several pregnancy-specific recommendations for better sleep:

  • Sleep on your side to improve circulation
  • Sleep with a pillow between your legs
  • Buy a pregnancy pillow to sleep with
  • Use a wedge pillow if you prefer to sleep on your back
  • Avoid spicy, fried, and acidic foods, which can cause sleep-disrupting acid reflux

You can also get better sleep at night by altering your habits during the day. One of the key steps you can take for better sleep is being physically active during the day, which prepares your body to sleep well at night.

If you feel tired all day but still have trouble falling or staying asleep while pregnant, consult our team about sleep hygiene and health. Call us at The Association for Women’s Health Care today for a prenatal visit.