Pregnancy tips: Sleep hacks
Pregnancy tips: Sleep hacks
Whether you’re newly pregnant or stumbling through the early days of parenthood, sleep is one hot topic you can’t stop thinking about. All nighters at uni and weekend-long music festivals have nothing on the exhaustion marathon facing new parents.
Since your sleep battles might start months before your human alarm clock actually arrives, we’ve put together proven techniques to combat pregnancy insomnia and even some weird sleep hacks to try. Read ‘em and sleep!
Why sleep is important during pregnancy
Hello, you’re building a human! If that’s not reason enough for sleeping more, we don’t know what is.
But the research proves it. Sleep deprived mamas have greater risk of preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, depressed mood and Caesarean births.
Sleep is essential, whether you’re pregnant or not, for health, immunity, cognitive function and hormonal regulation. Whether you’re surviving on six hours or face-down in your pillow for nine, sleep is not just a nice-to-have. It’s essential. And even more so when you’re pregnant.
How much sleep do I need?
A 2015 study found healthy adults need seven or more hours of sleep per night. (That’s seven hours actually asleep, not seven hours in bed tossing and turning or scrolling Insta.)
Regularly clocking less than seven hours per night was linked to weight gain, diabetes, hypertension, increased pain, impaired performance and greater risk of accidents. None of which you need when you’re creating life.
But it’s not just the hours of sleep, it’s the quality of sleep that matters. Interrupted sleep from night waking, pregnancy peeing, hormone-related nasal congestion and your baby throwing shapes in your belly can mean you’re more tired when you wake than when you went to bed.
Fixing pregnancy insomnia: hacks for every stage
If you’re pregnant and can’t sleep, try these sleep hacks for every trimester.
White noise - when your mind won’t quit, white noise can help you settle. The gentle whir of a fan can be enough (and does double duty to cool your room, which also helps you to sleep). Or download an ambient sounds app or playlist. (Tip: white noise or ‘womb’ soundtracks can also work a treat for your newborn when they arrive.)
Warm bath - the resulting drop in body temperature after your warm bath is what triggers sleep. Don’t make your soak too hot or you’ll end up a sweaty mess with a racing heart. A warm bath, reading something with actual pages (no blue light devices, go old school with a paper book or mag) and then sliding into cool sheets with the window open for fresh air can help.
Supported sleep - you feel big, awkward and uncomfortable. You can’t roll over without getting tangled in the sheets, and your partner is right THERE every time you adjust position. You need a maternity pillow that supports your belly without taking up the whole bed. Bonus points if you add a small cushion or pillow between your knees to support your hips.
3 weird sleeping tips that actually work
- Banana tea - while we prefer to eat our bananas than drink them, this one might be for you. Touted as a sleep remedy, banana tea is thought to aid sleep due to the levels of muscle-relaxing potassium and magnesium, and tryptophan found in the banana peel. (You know tryptophan, it’s the amino acid in turkey and milk which is thought to make you drowsy.) Made by steeping an unpeeled banana in boiling water for 10 minutes, banana tea recipes abound on the interwebs (225,000,000 Google results, in fact).
- Weighted blanket - when even Aldi gets on the weighted blanket bandwagon, you know this is a trend gone mass-market. In fact, weighted blankets even made Time’s list of best inventions. Touted to ease anxiety and create the sensation of being wrapped up in a hug, the scientific jury is out, with limited research to prove the benefits. But for those who swear by it, sleep is sweeter under a weighted blankie.
- Hum like a bee - you know that internal vibration you feel when you ‘Ommmm’ in yoga? That’s what we’re after. Humming relaxes your nervous system by creating a deep vibration and triggering the release of melatonin, according to The Sleep Guru, Anandi. Can’t get into it? You can always listen to this YouTube vid ASMR Humming You To Sleep. Almost 1.5 MILLION views later, maybe there’s something to it?
How to sleep when baby arrives
It’s no secret that new babies equal long nights. And days. And weeks. If you’re struggling with fatigue and sleeplessness as a new mum, try these tricks:
Remove the clocks - lying in bed counting the minutes until the next feed is torture. And reminding yourself exactly how many hours of sleep you haven’t had is just as bad. Take the clocks out of your bedroom, including your phone.
Eat super well - now is not the time for takeout. And you don’t have the time or energy to cook. So enlist the help of your partner, older kids, mother, sisters, friends . . . hell, order a meal prep service if you have to. Don’t ride the carb roller coaster through the day. You’ll only wind up feeling alternately wired and fried. When you eat better, you sleep better too.
Play music in the shower - when you’re running on zero sleep, a hot shower can be a godsend. But you hear phantom baby cries as soon as you strip off, so you wash your hair in 3.7 seconds and you’re back to mum duty in a heartbeat. Stop. Relinquish baby duty to a family member, cue up your favourite playlist in the shower and drown out the real world for five minutes of me-time.
Book a cleaning / laundry service - when you’re up at 1am, 3am and 5am feeding your newborn, a messy house and overflowing laundry basket are the last thing you need. And staying awake once baby is asleep so you can fold clothes or re-stack the dishwasher in the dark of night is madness. Either pay for a service, even for the first few weeks, or ask your family to help. Your priority right now is your baby and your rest. Everyone else can pitch in to keep the household running.
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