Updated: Apr 8
There are a number of factors that can contribute to interrupted and less restful sleep. You may be affected by one or more of these, but don’t worry, I’m going to give you suggestions to lead to a better night’s sleep!
Factors Contributing to Poor Sleep:
Restless Leg Syndrome
This is just a feeling of discomfort or restlessness in your legs while you’re trying to sleep. The feeling may be tingling, prickling, creepy crawly or achy. Many people find relief through stretching but will get woken up several times throughout the night with these feelings in their legs.
This is an interrupted breathing pattern during sleep and is often accompanied by snoring. You may also wake during the night feeling like you’re gasping or struggling for breath.
As your body goes through various hormonal and physical changes, you may experience more frequent or more severe heartburn. Episodes of heartburn during the night can wake you because of the burning sensation or even cause feelings of sputtering and choking.
Frequent Urination Throughout the Night
As your belly grows, more pressure is put on the bladder and it hold less liquid for shorter amounts of time, which can cause several trips to the bathroom during the night.
This can actually be quite common for many moms, as there can be a lot of fear and anxiety surrounding pregnancy and delivery of the baby. There are a lot of unknowns and questions that formulate and sometimes they seem to all attack at night, causing a severe lack of sleep.
Once the baby is born, you probably won’t see any kind of normal sleeping pattern for a long time! Many babies don’t begin to sleep through the night until they are around one year old. And many of those wakeful night sessions during that first year are going to include you being awake as well!
Plan a Sleep Schedule.
Going to bed and waking up around the same time every day can greatly increase the quality and ensure the quantity of sleep that you’re getting. I know it’s not always possible to stay perfectly on schedule, but if you can try to keep to it the majority of days during the week, you’ll feel much more rested.
Turn Off Technology.
Put your phone away and turn off the TV around 30 minutes before bed. Try taking a bath or reading a book to wind down physically and calm your mind in preparation for sleep.
Avoid Turning on the Lights.
Keep a night light in the bathroom to use instead of turning on the overhead light. The dimmer light will rouse you less and you’ll find it easier to fall back asleep after taking a trip to the bathroom.
Get at Least 30 Minutes of Exercise per Day.
As long as you have been cleared by your doctor for physical activity, make sure you’re getting a daily workout in! Giving your body a chance to be active also helps clear your mind and can lead to more restful sleep.
If You Can't Sleep...
Don’t just lie in bed for hours on end wishing that you could fall asleep. If you lay there for a few minutes and can’t fall asleep, get up and read a book, listen to music or do another calming activity until you feel tired. Then, go back to bed and try again.
Take Your Prenatal Vitamins.
Make sure that your body is full of the appropriate vitamins and minerals that it needs (eat right), as a lack of minerals — like iron — can lead to symptoms like restless leg syndrome.
Have a Helper.
If you’re feeling especially tired, have your partner take over the night shift for a few nights, or have a family member or friend swing by to give you a hand. Your health is just as important as your baby’s and getting enough sleep plays a huge part in a healthy lifestyle, both during pregnancy and postpartum as well.
You may find that one or more of the factors listed in the first section is affecting your sleep at night and maybe you hadn’t considered all of the suggestions for sleep survival. If you haven’t, take one or two of the tips that apply to you and try them out this week.
One final note that I want to make about sleep is how it affects performance during exercise. I’ll write about this in an upcoming article, but a lack of sleep has scientifically been shown to decrease performance during exercise. You will fatigue faster and be able to move less weight if you are tired. So, a critical part of a successful fitness journey throughout pregnancy and postpartum is getting a sufficient amount of sleep. Take steps tonight to be well-rested tomorrow!