Sweet Dreams

Get tips for getting a good night's sleep while you're expecting.

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-Hi! You're watching Sound Sleep Advice on Parents TV. I'm Johanna Buchholtz-Torres, editor-in-chief of Siempre Mujer, 12 Meses, and Espera. Like many other moms, I experience trouble sleeping while I was expecting, and I'm not alone. Many women have trouble sleeping during pregnancy from difficulty getting rest to developing problems like insomnia, restless leg syndrome or sleep apnea. Joining me today is Dr. Jodi Mindell. She's the Associate Director of the Sleep Center at the Children's Hospital Philadelphia and a Professor of Psychology at St. Joseph's University. She's also the author of the new book, Sleep Deprived No More. Thanks for joining us today, Dr. Mindell. -Oh, thank you. It's great to be here. -We hear about women that are expecting having a lot of problems sleeping. -It's a universal problem, right? It starts right from when you get pregnant, even before you may even know you're pregnant. By the end of pregnancy, 97% of women report that they're having a hard time sleeping at night. So, this is an issue that's gonna affect almost every woman when they're pregnant. -Well, that's alarming in many ways. Just so that we understand this a little better, how much sleep do women need while they're expecting? -Women when they're not pregnant need between 7, 8, 8-1/2 hours of sleep. When you're pregnant, you need more. Okay. Our bodies are working overtime. They're carrying for 2 and a lot of women especially in the first trimester are napping during the day, so they're needing that extra sleep during the day to help them get through and feel alert. -What would be some of the problems that they face most commonly when it comes to having trouble sleeping at night? -First trimester, morning sickness, feeling nauseous at night. It's gonna make you have a hard time sleeping. You wake up at 4 in the morning nauseous. It's hard to get back to sleep. Needing to use the bathroom. It happens in the first trimester. It happens at the end of pregnancy, also when the baby or the uterus is pressing in the bladder, so you need to go to the bathroom during the night. Getting comfortable. Even from the beginning, some women have a hard time sleeping on their stomach; and by the end of pregnancy, there's no way that you can sleep on your belly because you've got this huge belly and so you really need to sleep on your side. Other things, itchy skin, heartburn, snoring, leg cramps, just the whole gamut of sleep problems that women experience. -What would you suggest to a woman who is expecting who is having all sorts of different problems falling asleep and staying asleep during the night? -First of all, don't just accept it. I think it's the most important thing that I want women to realize is that you don't have to say I'm pregnant, I'm never gonna sleep, that's it; is that there are things you can do. First of all, just basic sleep hygiene, having a sleep routine, going to bed early enough. At night, when you get up to go to the bathroom, don't turn the lights on. Put a dimmer switch in your bathroom. It's a really cheap solution. It won't wake you up and make it so you can very easily go back to sleep. Pillows, props, they help you get comfortable at night. It's going to make a difference. -I like that term, sleep hygiene. I actually wonder. Why exactly is it that it is so important for women to get a goodnight sleep and make that a priority? -From just day to day, how do you feel that day is gonna make a difference in terms of how slept last night? So, being able to function at work, function as a parent, function at home, not to have drowsy driving. Okay, those basic things. We also know in a bigger picture. Sleep is predictive of postpartum depression. So, the more sleep you get when you're pregnant, the less likely you are to be depressed after the baby is born, so sleeping an extra hour, well worth it. -I gotta wonder. When it comes to that, I mean, the balancing act is really something very difficult for a lot of women after they become a new mom and they have a baby around. How do they do it? You know, when they have to deal with the baby's schedule and their own and being able to take care of themselves and making their own sleeping habits good enough. -Well, as you expect, the first month or two, very difficult to get the sleep you need, but you need support. Number 1 thing, having another parent there, having grandma there, getting a neighbor to come in and help you is gonna make a big difference. -Uh huh. -The other thing is that you need to prioritize sleep, right? -At that point, having a perfectly clean house, putting a gourmet meal on the table is not important. Taking care of your baby, taking care of yourself is gonna make it so you're the best parent you can be and your baby is gonna thrive also. -You mentioned in your book that exercising is very important. Why is that the case? -Well, we know that exercise improves sleep. Hey, you don't wanna exercise in the hour or two before bedtime. You really wanna exercise earlier in the day. It's gonna get you back on your feet when you're a new mom. It's gonna help you feel energized. It's gonna take care of yourself a little bit and it's also gonna help you sleep better at night. -Now, you say in your book also to remember that nothing is forever. That message really is to new moms, the new moms to know when they're sort of those bleary hours at the middle of the night, they feel like they're the only one up at 2 in the morning with a crying baby, that this is not forever and to really cherish those moments. Don't worry about being so tired. Enjoy your baby and really, you know, make that a precious moment. -This is extremely useful and very comforting, I have to say. Thank you so much, Dr. Jodi Mindell. If you wanna read more about sleep issues during and after pregnancy, Dr. Mindell's book is called Sleep Deprived No more. Thank you for watching Sound Sleep Advice on Parents TV, your source for the best information for your growing family. -Thank you for watching Parents TV, our families our lives.