Nurturing life Your reference in perinatal nutrition, from pregnancy to childhood

What can help a pregnant woman sleep better?

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By : Nurturing Life's Nutrition Team | Montreal Diet Dispensary
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Staying in a comfortable position, using pillows, elevating the head to sleep, learning to manage stress and doing physical activity are ways to help pregnant women sleep better.

Several sources of discomfort may prevent pregnant women from resting properly at night. Several strategies, however, can promote better sleep.

SLEEPING POSITION

Use pillows to support the body in a comfortable position. A pillow between or under the knees can be used to support the back. If the preferred position is on the side, cushions placed behind the body will help keep the position throughout the night.

The pregnant woman can choose her favorite sleeping position, but the left side position allows better oxygen supply for both the mother and the fetus. This position is also favorable to decrease snoring.

Elevate the head of the bed by placing objects under the mattress of the head (books, thick blankets, etc.) or use pillows to straighten your upper body. This elevated position helps reduce gastric reflux. However, after the 28th week of pregnancy, it is not recommended to sleep on your back, because there is a risk of hypotension (low blood pressure).

Any comfortable spot, even if it is not the bed, can be used to help pregnant women sleep.

LEARNING TO MANAGE STRESS

Pregnancy can be a big source of concern. Doing activities that allow to relax can help manage stress. Yoga or meditation may be appropriate for some women. Exercise to focus on breathing may help with relaxation. For others, artistic activities as well as more intense physical activities will help them relax.

PHYSICAL ACTIVITY

Being active during the day helps to sleep at night. It is therefore recommended to walk every day for 30 to 60 minutes. The following article provides more information on physical activity during pregnancy.

NORMAL WEIGHT BEFORE PREGNANCY

Obese women are more at risk of snoring or suffering from sleep apnea during pregnancy. A nutritionist may be consulted to reach a healthy body weight before, during and after pregnancy.

OTHER SOLUTIONS TO BETTER SLEEP

A few insomnia medications are compatible with pregnancy, and these require a doctor’s prescription. However, by making sure to have a regular sleep routine and applying the tips above, pregnant women can expect to improve the quality of their sleep.

Other considerations: a long nap during the day (over an hour) can disrupt sleep at night. On the other hand, pregnant women can sleep during the day if it is the only time they are able to fall asleep. Special attention should be paid to herbal teas because they are not all safe during pregnancy. For more information, visit the following link.

References

  • Frederick, I.O., Qiu, C., Sorensen, T.K., Enquobahrie, D.A. et Williams, M.A. (2013). The prevalence and correlates of habitual snoring during pregnancy. Sleep Breath, 17, 541-547.
  • Santiago J.R., Nolledo, M.S., Kinzler, W. et Santiago, T.V. (2001). Sleep and sleep disorders in pregnancy. Annals of Internal Medicine 134(5), 396-408.
  • Wilson, L.D., Walker, S.P., Fung, A.M, O’Donoghue, F., Barnes, M. et Howard, M. (2013). Can we predict sleep-disordered breathing in pregnancy? The clinical utility of symptoms. Journal of Sleep Research, 22, 670-678.

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The Public Health Agency of Canada has contributed financially to the production of Nurturing Life.

The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the official views of the Public Health Agency of Canada.