Alaska Sleep Education Center

Sleeping for Two: Pregnancy Sleeping Tips

Posted by Stefanie Leiter

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on Feb 27, 2018 7:00:00 AM

 We all know the old adage eating for two. But what about sleeping for two? As baby grows, Mommy grows. And sleep is a luxury Mommy cannot afford to take for granted during those short 40 weeks. But with sciatic pain and baby kicks can make for long, restless nights.

 Growing a baby causes your body to go through a lot of changes with fatigue sometimes surfacing as a first sign to pregnancy. Live Science notes “the influence of hormones… [along with] as the uterus gets bigger and the fetus grows, coupled with pregnancy-related weight gain and fluid accumulation in the body” causes fatigue early in the first trimester.

 Poor concentration, irritability, and stress can creep up quickly with lack of sleep. Live Science suggests eight hours of sleep for a healthy night’s rest.

 With these tips, Mommy can sleep well and save her energy for when it really matters: the baby’s erratic sleep schedule.


Back is Best?                         preggars1.png

 As you read all the books about becoming a first-time Mommy, sleeping is a main topic. What are the tricks to get baby to sleep through the night? What position? Where? How long? Back is best is the phrase seen in articles, books, and sleep sacks for baby. But for Mommy, back is NOT best while she is pregnant. Think SOS (sleep on side). More specifically, your left. But why?

 With shortness of breath, a growing abdomen, and increasing back pain, finding the right position makes or breaks a perfect night’s rest. But according to American Pregnancy, “sleeping on your left side will increase the amount of blood and nutrients that reach the placenta and your baby.”

 One of the hardest parts of pregnancy, especially with first-time Moms, is making certain you are doing everything as the doctor notes. You will become restless at night; how could you avoid it? Try to purchase a pregnancy wedge pillow to prop up your growing belly.

 Avoid back sleeping which can cause discomfort while pregnant but also can affect “the digestive system, hemorrhoids, low blood pressure and cause a decrease in circulation to your heart and your baby.”  American Pregnancy shares “ your abdomen resting on your intestines and major blood vessels (the aorta and vena cava)” is the main medical concern for back sleeping.


Leg Cramps

 Ever have a charlie horse? The kind that hits in the middle of a restful sleep? During pregnancy, they do not get any better. In fact, they can increase in frequency.

 The best medicine for a leg cramp, defined by Mayo Clinic as a “painful involuntary muscle contractions that typically affect the calf, foot or both,” is staying hydrated and active. That does not mean you need to drink gallons of water a day affecting the strain on your already small bladder or running a marathon, but ask your physician about what type of exercise is safe and make certain to watch your urine; it should be light or clear.

 Warm baths, ice massage or a muscle massage can help ease the pain. In the middle of a cramp, flex the calf muscle, walk around, and raise the leg to then ice or heat.



 Entering the second trimester, the mother-to-be will not only experience a larger uterus as the baby grows but may experience extra pressure on the stomach causing indigestion or heartburn. 

 Try eating smaller meals throughout the day so close to bedtime your stomach is not full. As you progress in the pregnancy, overeating may be difficult but finding certain triggering foods will help decrease the risk.

 Still struggling with heartburn? Switch to more fluids like smoothies or protein-rich drinks. Also, avoid eating three hours prior to bed. When it triggers, sit up and read a book or watch some tv to calm the acid before lying back down. If you own a recliner, spend some time sitting up. If acid reflux or heartburn persist, elevating the bedframe and mattress or propping up pillows can help.


Obstructive Sleep Apnea          preggers.jpg

 Anywhere from one to 10 percent of pregnant women have sleep apnea. The low numbers may cause you to shrug and deny the signs. Most do ignore the signs and believe it is another unfortunate symptom of pregnancy. But in actuality, sleep apnea is no laughing matter especially when sleeping for two.

 “Apnea is a chronic condition in which the airway collapses during sleep, temporarily blocking airflow and causing involuntary moments of breathlessness (or shallow breathing) that usually last about ten seconds each. People with mild sleep apnea typically have five to 15 breathing suspensions an hour, those with moderate apnea have 15 to 30, and those with severe sleep apnea suffer over 30 episodes an hour.”

 While pregnant, not only does your baby start to put on weight but the fluids and placenta providing nutrients to baby adds more weight to your body. As more weight is added, your nasal passages start to become tighter causing snoring and more seriously, obstructive sleep apnea.

 Sleep apnea lowers your blood-oxygen levels (the less air you breathe in each night, the less oxygen your body gets), increasing your risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, obesity, diabetes, depression, and heart failure.” Apnea in pregnancy also directly affects the cases of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia becoming dangerous situations for baby and Mom.

 What to Expect references studies that show cesarean sections are of higher probability in cases that involve apnea cases mainly because of the lack of oxygen reaching Mommy and baby. Not only does it affect the mom, but is three times more likely for a newborn to end up in the neonatal unit for breathing issues after birth.

 If your partner or spouse notices snoring or increased snoring, sleep apnea may be the cause. If you fall asleep easily during the day, the lack of sleep may be due to apnea. The lack of sleep can cause anxiety and mild headaches as well. All are telling signs that apnea may be a cause instead of a little restless night.


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Topics: sleep deprivation, pregnancy, sleeping

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