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How to get a good night’s sleep during pregnancy
Between trips to the loo, heart burn and trying to get comfortable, having a restful night’s kip isn’t always easy in pregnancy.
And if you’re going through this, you’re not alone – a poll by the National Sleep Foundation shows that 78 per cent of mums-to-be have trouble sleeping.
Here’s a few tips that can make sleepless nights a thing of the past (well, until your baby arrives anyway!).
One of the best ways to improve the quality of your sleep is to get outdoors in the daytime and into the sunlight. At least 30 minutes’ exposure, even if the sun isn’t at its strongest, is the best way to reinforce your sleep-wake cycle – the natural internal clock that makes sure you’re awake by day and asleep at nig
In the first trimester, most women crave carbohydrates and go off protein, but eating carbs without protein speeds up your digestion and causes highs in your blood sugar that can lead to night-time sugar lows and the need to eat.
Rather than three big meals a day, graze, try to eat every three to four hours. Try meals that are slow to digest, such as wholegrain carbs with proteins and vegetables.
Choose wholegrain cereals
Plain porridge with fruit
Whole oats with fruit and low-fat, lower-sugar yoghurt
Lunch and dinner
Try a baked potato for lunch – eat the skin for even more fibre.
Instead of having chips or frying potatoes, try making oven-baked potato wedges.
Have more rice or pasta and less sauce – but do not skip the vegetables.
Try breads such as seeded, wholemeal or granary. When you choose wholegrain varieties, you'll also increase the amount of fibre you're eating.
Try brown rice.
Many mums-to-be find that their body temperature increases, due to the extra blood flow and raised metabolism when you’re pregnant. Being too hot can make it harder to get to sleep, so you need to make allowances for this now.
Although an excessively warm bedroom disturbs sleep, there is evidence that a very cold room has a similar effect. Keep the temperature at no more than 16°C. Open the windows, maybe even invest in a fan and a lighter Tog duvet. Just warn your partner he might need warmer PJs.
Having a warm bath takes the blood away from your brain to the surface of your skin, making you feel relaxed and drowsy.
On top of that, your body temperature drops as soon as you get out of the warm water, initiating sleepiness.
But don’t make the water overly hot – it will raise your temperature too much, leaving you feeling uncomfortable way past your bedtime.’ Prefer showers? You’ll get exactly the same sleep-inducing effect from a blast of warm water.
There's no set time when you need to, or have to, start using a pregnancy pillow. To put it simply, you should start using one whenever you start finding it difficult to change positions during sleep. For most women, this is around week 20, when your belly starts to expand.
Resist the iPad
Facebook really will still be there in the morning. As will iPlayer. Looking at a laptop, tablet, smartphone or TV will keep your mind stimulated and make it harder to drop off, according to some studies . Turn them all off an hour before bed, Your body and brain will thank you for it.
It’s what got you here in the first place and orgasms release oxytocin, which makes you sleepy. But, if you’re feeling too huge or are simply too knackered for pregnancy sex, don’t worry. Cuddling on the sofa or in bed releases the same sleep-happy hormone. Any form of warm partner contact will help send you to sleep, whatever stage of pregnancy you’re in.
Researchers at Oxford University found that people who visualised relaxing scenes, such as mountains or the sea, fell asleep 20 minutes faster than on nights where they counted sheep. No wonder, numbers and counting make us think of to-do lists, which is the last thing you need before bed. A calming scene is much better, because it has no negative associations and takes us away from the here-and-now.