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The importance of sleep during pregnancy

Thursday 16 February 2023

This week, we caught up with Dr Lauren Rockliffe about how to maximise your shut eye during pregnancy.

How important is sleep?

Getting enough sleep is arguably one of the most important things we can do for our health. Whilst this is true for everyone, it’s particularly important during pregnancy when your body is working hard to nurture and nourish your baby. Not only does sleep allow your body to rest and recharge, allowing it to do its job effectively, but it also supports other important health behaviours. For example, if you’re well rested, you’ll have more energy, which means you’ll be far more likely to go out for your daily walk or attend your weekly yoga session.

The amount of sleep we get also determines how hungry we are the next day, as sleep deprivation increases the levels of hunger hormones in the body. This explains why you might find yourself snacking more the day after a bad night’s sleep.   

Sleep also has a big impact on our mental health. Getting enough sleep can help reduce stress levels, help you feel more relaxed, and better enable you to cope with the physical and emotional changes that come with pregnancy. It can also reduce feelings of anxiety or depression, which many women are prone to during this time, and can improve your overall sense of wellbeing.  

With all that said, getting a decent night’s sleep is often easier said than done. This can be especially true for those of us with young children, or for anyone struggling with pregnancy symptoms that affect their ability to drift-off. There are several things you can do, however, to help promote a better night’s sleep. 

Get comfortable

As your bump begins to grow, you might find it more challenging to get comfortable in bed. A pregnancy pillow may help with this, as they can improve the alignment of your body and relieve pressure while you sleep. Remember that after 28 weeks of pregnancy it’s also safer to sleep on your side, rather than on your back. 

Wind down

It can be helpful to create a wind-down routine that you do before bed each evening. This might mean playing some calming music, joining a pregnancy relaxation session, having a warm shower, using relaxing essential oils, or reading a book. Whatever it is, setting time aside to properly unwind before bed can aid relaxation and promote a better night’s sleep.   

Maintain a routine

Whilst it can be tempting to lie-in at the weekends and stay up late, not sticking to a regular bedtime/wake schedule can really affect how well you sleep. Our bodies like routine, so going to bed at the same time each night (where possible) means your body will start to learn when it’s time to switch off, easing the transition to sleep. 

Avoid caffeine

This one is fairly obvious but it’s helpful to remember that caffeine will seriously affect your ability to fall asleep. If you’re partial to a cup of coffee, make sure not to have it after 3pm, so that it’s out of your system before bed. It’s also worth remembering that various other types of food and drink contain caffeine, including coke, chocolate, energy drinks, and even some herbal teas.  

Write it down

If you find it difficult to switch off when it’s time for bed, it can be helpful to spend some time writing down your thoughts in a diary or journal. Getting them out of your head and onto paper can help to clear your mind and promote a more restful state.    

About the author

Dr Lauren Rockliffe

Lauren is a Chartered Health Psychologist and Pregnancy Health Coach. She is the Director of Bloomwell Pregnancy, which is an online health coaching service supporting women to make healthy lifestyle changes during pregnancy and beyond.


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