How to combat mum-to-be insomnia, as it's revealed pregnant women get just five hours sleep a night

Pregnancy can play havoc on your sleep patterns [Photo: Getty]

‘Stock up on sleep before the baby comes!’ they say. If only it were that easy as new research has revealed pregnant women average just five hours sleep a night.

Oh.

Yep at a time when they need it most, mums-to-be are struggling to clock up the ZZZs, thanks to a whole host of pregnancy related issues.

The survey of 2,000 parents, commissioned by Happy Beds, found that nine out of ten suffered disrupted sleep when expecting, with one in five reporting ‘extremely disrupted’ nights as a result of their pregnancy.

Some six in 10 soon-to-be mums had problems turning over, which affected their sleep and just under half said morning sickness/night sickness was impacted their ability to nod off.

Sadly, 57% of expectant mums have found themselves brought to tears by tiredness during their pregnancy.

Needing to pee, heartburn and being too hot were all found to be some of the key reasons for disrupted sleep,

“Sleep problems during and after pregnancy is a common occurrence,” explains Hope Bastine, sleep expert for high-tech mattress maker, Simba.

“The National Sleep Foundation recently reported that 80% of women report neonatal sleep disturbances.”

So why does pregnancy have such an impact on our sleep habits?

“During pregnancy, our body is working doubly hard to create new life so its no wonder our sleep demands alter as a result,” Hope explains.

“However, there feels like a tug-of-war is happening inside our body; while our sleep requirements increase, specific processes interfere with this essential demand. Several functional changes such as hormonal changes, increases in core body temperature, and significant physical discomfort all interfere with a restful night’s sleep.”

Keep it cool

“Sleep experts agree that sleeping with a room temperature of 16 degrees centigrade or less significantly regulates temperature related sleep disturbances experienced by pregnant women,” explains Hope.

“In addition, research shows that wearing natural fabrics, like cotton, bamboo, silk, satin, absorb excess moisture thus regulating body temperature – whereas, synthetic fabrics trap moisture and therefore doesn’t regulate body temperature during the night.

If our temperature spikes during the night we are innately programmed to wake up so doing all you can to avoid this is a must!”

Pregnant women are averaging just five hours sleep a night [Photo: Getty]

Cuddle yourself sleepy

Can’t sleep? Might be time to ditch the PJs. “There’s a lot to be said for sleeping in the nude when the pregnancy furnaces are firing for two reasons: temperature regulation and getting your sleepy-happy hormone fix!” says Hope.

“Research reveals that touch from your loved ones sees a spike in the luscious love hormone, oxytocin, which is not only nature’s antidote to insomnia but wonderfully natural analgesic. So bumping bodies in the night might not be a bad thing!”

Don’t curb the carbs

The whole carb-crash thing can affect pregnant women too! “During the third trimester, pregnant women crave carbs so make sure you curate a complex carb loaded dinner to not only induce the carb coma but also combat the night-time sugar lows that might wake you up in the night hungry,” Hope explains.

Beat the bounce

Physical comfort during pregnancy is vital, particularly when you’re trying to get a good night’s kip. According to the sleep survey, more than half of respondents believed a better mattress would have helped them sleep better during pregnancy. 

“A bed or mattress that has been comfortable for many years can suddenly feel like the most uncomfortable place in the world, and it can leave women – and their partners – feeling helpless,” explains Joy Richards, sleep specialist at online bed retailer Happy Beds.

Hope suggests pregnant women would benefit from a mattress that supports their body and natural spinal alignment.

“You’ll also find it easier to drift off laying on your left side propped up by a giant body pillow or two! This position activates the parasympathetic nervous system, the rest and digest physical state, aids the clearance of toxic by-products in the brain and body, and also supports circulation throughout the body,” she adds.

Meditate your way to ZZZs

Another inducer of pregnancy insomnia is the stress of hurtling towards motherhood and the anxious thoughts that brings with it. According to Hope in 2008, and 2012 UCLA found that pregnant women who took part in the eight-week mindfulness course experienced significant reductions in stress levels, anxious thoughts, and mood modulation – all enemies of sleep.

“Meditation also has been found by the Wake Forest University and the John F Kennedy Institute significantly elevate our natural pain relief responses, endorphins and dopamine, by an attractive 65% giving us the ability to handle pain 27% better than control groups,” she continues.

“Participants also reported a feeling of greater connection with their unborn child during pregnancy and a calm child after birth.”

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