Getting enough sleep during pregnancy in the first trimester is often difficult. As a result, many women experience exhaustion. You anticipate a lack of sleep once your little one arrives, but who knew sleepless nights were a part of pregnancy too.
Shortly after conception, you will experience some drastic changes in your body. A whole host of pregnancy symptoms can negatively affect your sleep, such as morning sickness, more frequent urination, breast tenderness, the list goes on. It is no surprise that many women experience insomnia during pregnancy.
We’re here to lend a helping hand and provide tips on how to improve sleep during pregnancy and avoid pregnancy insomnia. But first, let’s find out more about why you need your sleep during pregnancy and how it is affected in the first trimester.
The importance of sleep during pregnancy
During the first trimester, daytime fatigue and tiredness is very common. This is because your body uses the majority of its energy up on supporting the growth of your developing baby. In this time, it’s even more important to ensure you get your much needed shut eye.
Sleep deprivation during pregnancy not only makes you feel tired, but can also increase the risk of complications. These include high blood pressure, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and stress and depression. As well as affecting your own health, sleep is also important for your developing baby. During sleep, blood flow to the fetus is at its highest, providing all the necessary nutrients and oxygen. Sleep is also needed for the production of growth hormones, which are required for healthy development.
How is sleep affected in the first trimester
Research suggests that sleep quality during pregnancy is poor in the first trimester and that women often experience daytime sleepiness. This is due to the natural rise in progesterone that happens during the first trimester that ensures the uterus maintains the pregnancy. High levels of progesterone also raises body temperature, making it harder to sleep.
Morning sickness is especially common during the first trimester. However, nausea and vomiting is not necessarily restricted to morning, as you may have been led to believe. It can strike at any time of the day, even during the night. This causes sleep disturbances and frequent trips to the bathroom. And, whilst we’re on the topic of bathroom breaks, let’s not forget the more frequent urination that will also drag you from bed most nights!
Additionally, headaches, bloating, constipation, and tender breasts can all make getting comfortable and sleeping difficult. Some women may also experience heartburn and sleep apnea in the first trimester, further adding to the list of things preventing a good night’s sleep.
How to improve sleep during the first trimester
Use the ShutEye app
Our ShutEye app can help you get a better night’s sleep by promoting relaxation. With ShutEye, you can download a large variety of background noises for a calmer sleeping environment. These include rain, peaceful ocean sounds, relaxing forest landscapes, and many more. It also helps improve your quality of sleep by enabling you to track your sleep cycles, ensuring you wake up and go to sleep at the best times for you.
Sleeping position during pregnancy
It is good to get into the habit of sleeping on your side early in your pregnancy. This is because sleeping on your back puts pressure on your internal organs and an important vein that carries blood and oxygen throughout your body and to your baby. As your baby grows, so does the strain on your body. Doctors recommend sleeping on the left side in particular, as it avoids putting pressure on these areas. If you aren’t naturally a back sleeper, placing pillows around yourself can help prevent you from rolling over. Specific pregnancy pillows can also help to relieve some pressure and help you find the most comfortable sleeping position.
Prenatal vitamins can help ensure you and your baby are receiving the right nutrients to fight fatigue. It is not uncommon for pregnant women to suffer from anemia, a condition where there aren’t enough red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body. This results in extreme weakness and fatigue, and can be dangerous to your baby.
Anemia often develops because your body is required to produce more blood to support the growth of your baby. This requires a higher intake of iron and folic acid, which are necessary for making red blood cells. Consequently, anemia is usually linked to low levels of these important nutrients in the body. Taking a prenatal vitamin containing iron and folic acid can help prevent fatigue. They may also help with restless leg syndrome, a common cause of pregnancy insomnia.
To prevent nausea, eating little and often instead of large meals can help. You should also try to avoid eating right before bed. If your digestive system is still working away late at night, it can be harder to fall asleep. Plus, you may also experience acid reflux from lying down straight after eating.
Eating spicy or fatty foods can lead to heartburn and other digestive problems which may make sleep harder. Eating a nutritious, well-balanced diet is best for promoting a healthy digestive system. But we understand this isn’t always easy when those cravings attack!
What you drink during the day can also impact sleep. Caffeine promotes feelings of alertness and prevents feelings of tiredness. It’s the reason we drink it. But cutting back on caffeinated drinks can help improve your sleep, especially if you are partial to a coffee late in the day. Coffee and liquids in general can also cause you to urinate more. Try to avoid these in the hours running up to bedtime.
Good sleep hygiene
Sleep hygiene refers to habits you can adopt before bedtime to help promote a good night’s sleep. This could be things like creating a comfortable bedroom environment, keeping a stable sleep schedule, practicing a relaxing pre-bedtime routine, such as having a bath, and avoiding screens, as the light can stimulate your brain to stay awake.
Gentle exercise such as yoga or swimming can help promote relaxation, improve energy levels and help you sleep at night. Research has found that yoga during pregnancy can also help lower stress levels. Try free online yoga.
A quick recap
To support the healthy growth and development of your baby, it is extremely important you get enough sleep. But, as your body goes through a number of changes, sleeping during pregnancy is no easy feat. By following these simple tips, you’ll be well on your way to a good night’s rest.