How to Achieve Precious Muscle Recovering Sleep, Even while Pregnant
So a little update: Our little baby girl sleeps and wakes at regular intervals now. She has little baby hiccups and she can open and close her eyes. According to my baby apps, her brain is very active now. It is good to know while her lungs are still a little immature, they would be able to function with medical help if she were born right now. I am in my seventh month and in my third trimester according to charts I’ve looked online (this month/week thing is confusing). I'm so ready to meet her even though I know I have some time still being pregnant :)
Every athlete knows it is super important to get sleep for recovery, muscle growth, and fat loss. It is also very important when your body is making another human, and when you add in your daily work out on top of that, sleep isn’t a luxury- it is a necessity. In our hectic days of work, children, housekeeping, and training, it is hard enough to reset the body and feel fully rested in the morning.
I definitely started to feel more tired lately. Compared to the second trimester, I notice myself taking naps after clients if I have the time. I have also noticed it is harder and harder to get comfortable while trying to fall sleep. I notice some nights I get up a few times during the night to pee, or I am too over heated. The naps just show that my body definitely needs the sleep it’s not fully getting at night. I wanted to improve this so there are some steps I took in order to sleep better.
Here are some tips that I found that have helped me sleep better:
1.Exercise during the day
Whether you are pregnant or not, exercising will give your body energy during the day, but helps you fall asleep at night. If you don’t lift weights, I would suggest doing some sort of walking or cardio during the day. Pilates, swimming and yoga are all great ways to get moving pregnant or not.
2.No Electronic Devices 30 minutes before bed
This includes things like a TV, computer, or phone. This sometimes can be hard to do as our lives revolve so much around these things. If I can’t go to sleep sometimes my mind races on everything and anything. If I get like that I read articles and usually the articles put me asleep. Since my mind is usually on a million things a minute an article allows my brain to focus on what they are writing and then I usually get tired and fall asleep. Books are usually better for most people because it doesn’t have any light that messes around with your internal clock. My little tip is to adjust your lighting on your phone to automatically change to a non-blue light to a light that is low and a warm red undertone. This definitely makes me sleepy and it is automatic daily so I don’t have to think about it. I hear that taking a bath before bed often helps the body relax and get ready for sleep. I personally don’t like going through that trouble at the end of the day.
3.Start sleeping on your left side
Before getting pregnant I would sleep on my stomach and found that it was the most comfortable way for me to get rest. I think if I put pillows around my belly it still might work but whether you are pregnant (or not) the best side to sleep on is your left. Sleeping on your right side is second best. It is recommended while you are pregnant not to sleep on your back. This is especially important after the 20-week mark. The reason for this is that you put too much pressure on the Vena Cava which cuts off nutrients and reduces blood supply to the baby. Also the baby will have less oxygen. It can also cause low or high blood pressure, nausea, trouble breathing, dizziness, heartburn, and abdominal pain. I had heard that this doesn’t affect everyone as the uterus isn’t heavy enough and for these people they will have no problem sleeping on their backs. This is a very hard one for me as I always wake up on my back even with a Snuggle pregnancy pillow. I would suggest trying to get in the habit of sleeping on your side while you can because it is better for digestion and blood flow. If you are a women and plan to ever get pregnant, you will be ready for that type of sleeping. Realistically, if you can’t stay in one position all night, your best bet is to alternate between the right side and the left side. Remember, worrying about your sleeping position too much will worsen your sleep. I know lose-lose situation huh J
I have a pregnancy “C” shaped pillow to try to help me sleep on my side. I find it comfortable, but use my skinny foam pillow on top of the head part of the pillow for extra support for my neck. I use the tail of the “C” between my legs to help my hips stay more aligned. I must say it does take up a lot of the bed and husbands often don’t like them. There are also “U” shaped pillow you can purchase. To be honest I will probably sleep with this pillow even when not pregnant since it really is comfortable and supportive. I would recommend all athletes, men and women, to try it out. Multiple regular pillows will work too, just make yourself as comfortable as possible supporting the neck, back, and stomach.
5.Eat only certain things at night
Pregnancy tends to make women more prone to heart burn. If you know what foods cause you heartburn, be sure to avoid it at dinnertime. The reason for this is laying down will actually make it worse. If you end up eating right before bed, make sure to sit up in bed with pillows so that you don’t get that burning sensation. Spicy foods are usually the ones that cause heartburn so be careful eating them at night. It also helps to your biggest meal at breakfast and then taper down to meals at dinner time. This will make it easier on your digestion.
6.Turn the heat down
I can completely understand the feeling now of being hot all of the time. Since becoming pregnant, I have felt either really hot or really cold with the majority of the time being really hot. It just makes everything else so uncomfortable. So before bed turn down the thermostat between 60-68 degrees. Throw a blanket on for a cozy night’s rest.
7.Drink more water throughout the day
When you drink water all day hydrating the body, then you’ll notice that you are not as hungry at night. Drinking water all day also prevents the body from getting leg cramps which usually happens while pregnant. Remember you should be tapering off towards the night and limiting caffeine. If you have caffeine of any sort make sure to have only in the morning.
8.Cut off water a couple hours before you go to bed
When you drink tons of water you will get the benefit of the water. Unfortunately, if you continue to drink until right bed time, you will be waking up all the time to use the bathroom. The cut off is usually a couple hours before bed time.
9.Use a sound machine with the option of “white noise”
I haven’t received the machine that I bought for the baby yet, but I am definitely going to try it out when It gets here for me.
10.Replace your night stand light bulb with a Red light bulb
About 2 years ago when I was working on my adrenals and my circadian rhythm, I switched my white light bulb in the lamp by my bed to a red bulb. Using this at night helps gears you down to get ready to sleep. I use it as my only light at night when getting settled in my bed before turning it off completely and sleeping.
11.Try to empty bladder before going to bed
It’s obviously hard to sleep when you have a full bladder, but even having a partially full bladder will contribute to waking up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. So take a quick stop at the bathroom right before you head to bed even if you don’t have a feeling that have to go. Remember don’t drink anything after to assure a better night’s rest.
12.Change location if you need to
While pregnant, or any time, if you feel more comfortable in a guest bed or even on the couch go for it. While it’s always nice to sleep in your own, sometimes it’s just more important to get good sleep. If you are like me and have a loving husband that snores like freight train, then sometimes another room (with the sound machine to drown out the sound :) does the trick. Not only does my husband snore but so does Rocky my dog who sleeps on his own bed in our room. Some pregnant women find that sleeping on the couch is more comfortable because the pillows on the back of the couch keeps them from rolling over.
13.Keep a routine
Your body and your circadian rhythm (cortisol and melatonin are important hormones for this) likes having routine and allows your body to reset. Your circadian rhythm regulates all the processes of the body. It repairs and detoxifies its self at night and especially between 11pm-1am. It is important though to get over 6 hours of sleep every night. When we sleep, we move into an anabolic state unlike when we are awake and are in a catabolic state. In the anabolic sleeping state, energy is conserved and repair and growth take over. Adrenaline and corticosteroids drop and the body starts to produce human growth hormone (HGH). In case you are wondering what is so important about HGH, it is that is promotes growth, maintenance and repair of bones and muscles. Every tissue in the body is renewed faster during sleep than any time when awake. You can imagine that since you are creating new bone and tissue for your baby, it is really important to pay attention to the quality of your sleep and your sleep routine.
14.Having some tea (or warm liquid) in the evening
Having something warm in the evening will help relax your body. Chamomile tea is a tea that is known to be calming. I use a small cup of unsweetened cashew, almond, or coconut milk mixed with my hot filtered water. Sometimes I add in some pure stevia to make it feel like a dessert. Just make sure you cut off your consumption an hour or so before bed and use the bathroom before go to sleep.
I know some pregnant women use essential oils like lavender for a sleep aid. It is a natural way to help fall asleep.
16.Have a little snack
A healthy snack can ward off nausea and help you sleep throughout the night without dips in your blood sugar. One example of a healthy dish is raw veggies dipped in low fat hummus.
Leg cramps in the middle of the night are common among pregnant women. Make sure you are consuming or supplementing enough calcium which will help with preventing leg cramps.