Maybe you think sleep deprivation won't be an issue until after your baby is born. Hah! Depending on how pregnant you are, everything from "morning" sickness to scary dreams to restless leg can take their toll on your nightly shut-eye. Our trimester-by-trimester guide will help you sleep better during pregnancy and even in the the "fourth trimester," when you'll face a brand-new sleep challenge: your baby!
First Trimester: Drowsy All the Time
“Most women don’t know what’s in store for them [in terms of sleep] during pregnancy,” says Kathryn A. Lee, R.N., Ph.D., a professor of nursing at the University of California, San Francisco, who researches the topic. “Women who’ve had kids know how low-energy they’re going to feel during pregnancy and plan for that by sleeping more.” Lethargy and overwhelming fatigue are common due to the dramatic rise in progesterone; necessary for maintaining pregnancy, the hormone is also a soporific. Another culprit: the metabolic changes your body is going through. “A lot of calories are going into the gestation process,” explains Lee. “The growing fetus is taking every bit of your energy.”
First Trimester Sleep Challenges:
Increased Bathroom Visits- Your high progesterone level, along with a growing uterus that’s pushing against the bladder, means more frequent urination.
Body Aches- Swollen breasts and pelvic cramping can make it harder to fall and stay asleep.
Nausea- “Morning” sickness can and often does strike during the evening and wee hours of the night.
First Trimester Sleep Solutions:
Schedule Sleep- Plan your snooze time just like you do your meals or your day at the office, and nap as often as possible. “It’s best to nap between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.; otherwise you’ll have trouble falling asleep at night,” advises Teresa Ann Hoffman, M.D., an OB-GYN at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. “And take one or even two 30-minute catnaps rather than one long, two-hour sleep.” Nap on the floor of your office or in your car if you need to.
Cut Down On Fluids After 6 p.m.- This will help curtail nocturnal bathroom runs. “If you drink caffeinated beverages, do so only in the morning,” says Hoffman.
Stock Saltines On Your Nightstand- Crackers will quell midnight queasiness—and you won’t have to trudge to the kitchen to get them.
Exercise Early- Physical activity in the morning, afternoon and early evening will promote sounder sleep. Late-evening workouts, however, tend to encourage insomnia.