Although you were warned that pregnancy is exhausting, you probably weren’t prepared for just how tired you were going to be. Your body is working hard, making an entire, intricate human being.
During the first trimester, your body is making changes to prepare you to provide nourishment to your baby for many months to come. Your breast tissue changes as your body prepares to breastfeed your baby. Your blood volume begins increasing as soon as you become pregnant and will increase by 50% over the course of pregnancy. The hormone progesterone will signal your body to lower carbon dioxide in the blood, changing the way you breathe. Morning sickness can wreak havoc on your nutrition, making it harder for your body to meet demand.
The many changes your body is making deplete you of energy. Hormonal changes and the physical demands of pregnancy add to fatigue. Then there’s first-trimester insomnia! You may have difficulty sleeping even though you are more tired than you have ever been before!
So how does a pregnant person get more sleep and avoid fatigue, moodiness, lowered immunity, and other health concerns related to pregnancy sleep deprivation?
1. Start by creating a routine. Individuals who go to bed and wake up at the same time each day feel more rested. Set a regular time and ensure you'll be in bed at least 8 hours.
2. Reduce your evening screen time. Even with the advent of iPhone's "Night Shift," late-night screen time can discourage melatonin production and in turn sleep. If staying off your phone or other devices for the two hours leading up to bedtime is not realistic for you, be sure you're using Night Shift or some other filter, choose devices with smaller screens and turn down your screen's brightness.
3. Have a relaxing ritual. As an extension of your routine, adding in some relaxation techniques can help you fall asleep and stay asleep. A hot bath each night, scheduling some quiet time for yourself, reading a book, and having a small snack, can help you sleep better if added to your bedtime routine.
4. Exercise and physical activity have been shown to improve the quality of one’s sleep. Take some time to get a little exercise each day.
5. Work with your health care professionals to relieve any pregnancy related discomforts you’re experiencing to make it easier to sleep. You may find adding a chiropractor, acupuncturist, or massage therapist to your prenatal care team helpful. Your Ottawa Family Doula can provide carefully vetted resources for practitioners in the Ottawa area.