Sleep and rest

We know that sleep is important – the amount we need changes through our lives; the recommended amount of sleep for adults is between 7 and 8 hours a night.

In the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, it’s common to feel tired as your body experiences changes in hormone levels. During this early period and throughout the pregnancy, getting enough sleep and rest will help you to manage both the physical and emotional demands of being pregnant.

What ideas do you have about the benefits of sleep? Jot down your thoughts and see how they compare with the ones below.

  • Allows our body to rest body
  • Less stressed
  • Happier
  • More energy
  • Able to deal with the challenges of daily life
  • Brain has chance to make sense of the day
  • Helps strengthen our immune system so our bodies can fight off illness

Having thought about the benefits of sleep, let’s explore some handy tips for ways to help you get a good night’s rest.

Do you have a night time routine that helps you to settle down to sleep?

Top tips for a good night's sleep:

  • Try building some moderate activity into your daily routine such as walking or swimming (not too close to bedtime as that might keep you awake).
  • Aim to go to bed at around the same time each night.
  • Relax before bedtime – maybe read a book or listen to some gentle music.
  • Gently wind down in the evening by having a bedtime routine – maybe take a warm bath, and try to avoid screens (TV and phone) close to bedtime.
  • Create a restful atmosphere in the bedroom by thinking about the temperature, lighting and noise levels.
  • Check that your bed and pillows are comfortable.
  • Switch to drinks without caffeine in the evening – try herbal tea or a milky drink.
  • Introduce a relaxation technique – perhaps something you’ve learnt at antenatal class or listen to a guided meditation.

If lack of sleep is affecting your daily life, speak to your doctor or midwife who’ll be able to support you. For more information about tiredness and sleep during pregnant, visit this NHS website.

What positions should I sleep in during pregnancy?

Many people have a favourite sleeping position, however most of us will move through several different ones during the night. Research suggests that, after 28 weeks, sleeping on your side is the safest position for your baby to reduce the risk of stillbirth - this may be to do with the flow of blood and oxygen to the baby.

Changing your sleeping position early on in pregnancy will give you time to feel comfortable sleeping on your side – if you do wake up on your back, you can turn over and go to sleep again on your side. Take a look at this video for more details.