Previous research has shown that too little or too much sleep can make you gain excess weight and can even lead to obesity. A new study has shown this to be true for pregnant women too.
“We know that poor sleep in pregnancy has been linked to adverse pregnancy outcomes,” explained Francesca Facco, M.D., one of the researchers of the study. Now, it’s linked to excess weight gain too.
The study involved monitoring the sleep of 751 pregnant women for seven straight days. Around two-thirds of the women were able to sleep between seven and nine hours a night. Results showed that those who got too little or too much sleep gained weight that they didn't need.
That goes to show that sleep is important. And, pregnant women need their rest. According toKathy Lee, a professor of nursing at the University of California San Francisco in the U.S., pregnant women should be getting at least seven hours of sleep. They can’t keep going on the same amount of sleep before they were pregnant, she pointed out.
Already far off into your pregnancy and finding it hard to sleep at night? Here are a few tips and tricks to get you better Zs.
1. Sleep on your side The weight of the baby will compress the blood flow to your heart when you sleep on your back, says Shelby Freedman Harris, Psy.D., a psychologist and director of the behavioral sleep medicine program at Montefiore Sleep-Wake Disorders Center in the U.S. To ease it, sleep on your side instead.
To make sleeping on your side more comfortable, try tucking a pillow in between your knees to align your legs and spine. You can also wrap yourself in a body pillow to support your tummy and make it easier for your muscles to relax.
2. Stay hydrated--but not too much. The more your baby grows, the more room he or she will take up in your body--meaning less space for organs like your lungs and bladder. And, a smaller bladder would mean more trips to the bathroom. “You want to stay hydrated, but avoid liquids about three hours before bed,” says Carol Ash, M.D., an internist. And, if you’re finding you’re rather short on breath prop more pillows up.
3. Have a bedtime routine. Too awake to sleep? Discipline yourself to feel sleepy when it’s time for bed. Ease your body into sleeping by establishing a bedtime routine. “Bedtime routines are as important for adults as they are for children,” explains Robert Oexman, D.C., director of the Sleep to Live Institute in the U.S.
It doesn’t have to be complicated. Just doing the same things before trying to fall asleep, like having a warm bath and doing some light reading, will do. “Your body needs at least 30 minutes to relax and prep for sleep,” said Dr. Oexman.
4. Don’t snack on anything before bed. Aside from trying not to drink anything before bed, try not to eat anything less than two hours before bedtime too. “There’s the likelihood that it will cause reflux or heartburn,” says Sam Sugar, M.D., director of MedCheck and Sleep Health Programs at the Pritikin Longevity Center + Spa in the U.S.
Your growing baby will be pushing into your stomach causing acids to rise up into your throat. Who wants to be kept up with that? No one--including pregnant moms.
Sources: February 4, 2016. "Too Much, Too Little Sleep and Pregnancy Weight" (webmd.com) February 1, 2016. "Study shows impact of sleep on gestational weight gain during pregnancy" (sciencedaily.com) 2013. "How to Get a Better Night's Sleep While Pregnant" (parents.com) Undated. "10 Ways to Get Better Sleep" (thebump.com)