The Pregnant Gal's Guide to Creating a Good Sleep Environment

by Jackie Hershwitz

Pregnant Gal's Guide to Creating a Good Sleep EnvironmentIf your daytime hours are filled with pregnancy woes ranging from bouts of nausea, stretching ligament pain, or feeling like you have the next generation of Cirque du Soleil in your womb, sleep becomes a welcome and needed respite.

Now if you could just get to sleep and stay asleep!

We've gathered up a few suggestions to help maximize those "zzz's" to the best of your ability...well, as long as the tiny "boss" agrees. We haven't quite figured out how to prevent that tiny foot from nailing your bladder just about the time you hit REM sleep, though.

Prepare Your Mind and Body for Sleep

Moms share that a little yoga, some gentle stretching, a warm bath with a lavender candle nearby or a small snack help them get in the mood for a snooze. What's your dream bedtime routine?

Mind over body (or body over body if you are "in the mood!"): All fun aside, our point is that you should isolate your bed as a space for rest, sleep, or "recreational fun" (yes, we mean S-E-X). Ban work, web surfing and texting (yes, we went there) for another room or space.

Making your bed space free from stressful distractions allows your mind (and body) to automatically equate the room with relaxation -- when you finally get to crash there. You and your partner will both enjoy the benefits.

Now that your body's entered sleep mode, let's open the bedroom door and see if your sleeping space is cool, cozy and accommodating.

The Sacred Sleep Space

You tend to be a lot hotter (while that may be true, we mean that your baby bump produces a lot of spare warmth) during pregnancy. Cool your bedroom with a fan or air conditioning until you find that perfect temperature. Offer a spare wool comforter to your "other half."

If your street is like mine, your bedroom approaches dawn or twilight, but never darkness. Black out shades or heavy drapes can work miracles, even eliminating the light from your neighbor's security system.

Light triggers the wake up part of your brain and since you'll most likely need to make at least one bathroom trip (thank babe for that boot to the bladder again), consider using night lights or dimmer controlled lighting in your bathroom and bedroom. You don't want to trip over stuff in the dark, but you don't want to return to bed wide awake, either.

Speaking of the bed...yours might be cluttered with sleep aids. Mine is! Walk into my room and you'll discover a sleeping space containing:

Breathable bedding: Natural materials such as cotton, wool, linen and bamboo help you maintain a comfortable body temperature throughout the night.

A sleep wedge: Gently elevating the top of the bed can ease heartburn.

Tons of body or pregnancy pillows: From small wedge shaped pillows you can place under your belly to full-sized body pillow, expectant moms say these increase comfort and add hours (or precious minutes) of sleep.

White noise: Even when you think you're solidly snoozing, sleep studies show that your brain responds to the noise from passing cars or trains. "White noise" can help drown out environmental noises and improve your sleep quality. Try the whirring of an electric fan or a white noise machine's surf sounds, night time crickets, a babbling brook.

Still find it impossible to sleep? Get up and do something else instead of tossing and turning. You might find yourself drowsy enough in a bit to get back in bed and fall asleep.

What helps you sleep? Share with other moms!

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