As a sleep consultant at Sleep Sisters, Debbie Sasson is keenly aware of her daughter’s sleep habits. She is also very conscious of her own. She is well into her third trimester with her second child and starting to feel like sleep is a precious commodity that she won’t have in her life for a few months now. She’s absolutely exhausted!
For pregnant women, sleep is of critical importance. Research shows that sleep deprivation during pregnancy is linked with increased incidence of preterm labor and postpartum depression.
Many women complain about how tired they are during pregnancy and there are several factors that contribute to that exhaustion. In the first trimester, Debbie was able to fall asleep easily (in any place at any time – even with her older daughter playing right next to her!). However, she often woke up at 3am to use the bathroom only to crawl back into bed and lie awake for two more hours. Many women find that stomach upset keeps them awake during the first trimester as well.
The second trimester brought Debbie more restful sleep, although it was still interrupted by many midnight trips to the bathroom. Now, as she nears her due date, Debbie’s finding things like worry, aches and pains, and her pressed-upon bladder are keeping her up throughout the night. While she does try to nap every day, working full-time and having a 4.5 year old can sometimes make that difficult.
As with all sleep concerns, sleep hygiene is the most important “cure” to many adult sleep troubles. This is even more true during pregnancy. Here are some suggestions that all adults can use to help with healthy sleep – especially if you’re expecting:
- Sleep in a dark, cool room (around 70 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Use white noise to drown out any household or neighborhood noises that may wake you.
- Try not to eat within two hours of bedtime. (If you’re nauseated and find that eating helps, try to limit your bedtime snacks to bland foods like pretzels, saltines, or toast.)
- Stop exercising 2 hours before bedtime.
- Turn off all screens (including phones, tablets, TVs, and computers) an hour before bedtime.
- Try to keep your bedroom a space for relaxation – don’t do work in bed and try not to watch TV in bed since your bed should be for sleeping, intimacy with your partner, and reading.
- Dim the lights as you get ready for bed – darkness can help your body naturally produce melatonin which will make you feel more sleepy.
- Try to go to bed at around the same time every night and wake around the same time every morning – aiming for around 8 hours if you can.
- If you do wake in the middle of the night, don’t turn on a screen. Instead, try reading, doing relaxation exercises, or writing in a journal. (Keeping some paper and a pen by your bed to jot down any worries or things you want to remember will be helpful if you’re someone who has trouble falling back to sleep.)
As with your children, when you are pregnant, sleep should be a priority. Make sure you’re establishing healthy sleep habits for yourself as you begin to prepare for your new baby’s arrival!
About Our Guest Author
Debbie Sasson is a Certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant, the co-founder of Sleep Sisters, and has a doctorate in clinical psychology. She is experienced in a broad range of methods and techniques, and works with each individual family to find an approach that suits their unique style and needs. All of her sleep work is informed by her knowledge about brain development, emotional development and family relationships. Debbie sees clients in person throughout the Philadelphia area and by phone/video around the world. She also speaks to groups and teaches seminars. Learn more about Sleep Sisters and book a consultation at www.sleepsisters.com