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Do women need more sleep during pregnancy?

13th June 2024 • 4 min read

What to expect when you’re expecting: the sleep edition.

If you’re a parent, you’ll know pregnancy comes with more twists and turns than a true crime novel. Sleep changes are common – especially in the first and last few months of pregnancy. In fact, research shows up to 80 per cent of women experience poor sleep during pregnancy.

When it comes to the health of you and your unborn child, sleep is just as important as exercise and a balanced diet. So, if you’re wondering how much sleep you should have when you’re pregnant, the short answer is more than usual.

Here, we answer your questions about sleep and pregnancy. Most importantly, we’ll explain what you can do to get the shut-eye you need when you’re expecting. 

Why do women need more sleep during pregnancy?

If you or someone you know has a baby on the way, you’ll know how tiring pregnancy can be. Making another human is hard work! 

What you may not realise is that pregnancy actually changes your sleep patterns. After all, you’re going through a major transformation – beyond just the size of your belly. As pregnancy progresses, an array of physical and hormonal changes occur, many of which can cause lighter sleep and more frequent night-time awakenings. Sleep also feels less refreshing during pregnancy, according to Australia’s Sleep Health Foundation. This means that mums-to-be have to work extra hard to get the rest they need. 

Common causes of sleep disturbances during pregnancy include:

  • Nausea – changes in oestrogen, blood pressure and metabolism (especially during the first trimester of pregnancy) may contribute to so-called morning sickness (which can really happen any time, day or night) and disrupt sleep.

  • Temperature changes – fluctuating hormones can cause sweating and overheating.

  • Heartburn or reflux – caused by changes in progesterone or the pressure of your growing baby on your digestive organs, heartburn is an uncomfortable bed-time companion.

  • Frequent urination – the growth of the uterus can have you getting out of bed to use the bathroom more often than usual.

  • Aches and pains – breast tenderness, back pain and leg cramps may make it harder to fall and stay asleep. 

  • Restless Legs Syndrome – some pregnant women experience uncomfortable sensations and uncontrollable movements in their legs, particularly at night.

  • General restlessness – as pregnancy progresses, it can be harder to get comfortable in bed, which can lead to tossing and turning.

While sleep disturbances are perfectly normal during pregnancy, some women will experience sleep issues more acutely than others. If you have any concerns, talk to your healthcare professional.

How to get a good night’s rest 

Sleep can certainly be challenging during pregnancy, but there are a few strategies to help you get the Zs you need. 

Rest during the day

It’s important not to push yourself too hard during your pregnancy. Slow down where you can, and take rest breaks or short naps throughout the day.

Get some light exercise

Movement and physical activity can help promote a good night's sleep. Going for a walk in the late afternoon may be the key to drifting off quicker at night. Plus, exercise is linked to an array of other health benefits during pregnancy – stress relief, improved circulation, fewer delivery complications, faster post-labour recovery, and more.

Prioritise wind-down time

To fall asleep quicker, give yourself plenty of wind-down time at the end of the day. Reading, light stretching, taking a bath or listening to calming music before bed are all great ways to ease into slumber.

Watch what you drink

To reduce night-time bathroom visits, avoid drinking too many fluids and make sure you go to the toilet just before bed. You should also steer clear of caffeinated drinks, particularly in the hours leading up to sleep. 

Adjust your sleep position and try a pregnancy pillow

From the 28th week of pregnancy onwards, experts say you should sleep on your side. This includes daytime naps. According to Red Nose Australia, “lying on your back in the later stages of pregnancy puts pressure on major blood vessels, which can reduce blood flow to your womb”. If you wake up on your back, don’t worry (it’s perfectly normal to move around while you sleep) but you should turn back onto your side. 

For added comfort and support, try bending your knees and putting a pillow between them, along with one under the stomach. A special pregnancy pillow can also help support your back, neck and growing belly while you sleep. 

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Choose a supportive mattress

Many pregnant women experience aches, pains and general discomfort while they sleep – or attempt to sleep – which is why a supportive mattress is essential for a good night’s rest.

The Crown Posture Bedding PostureSupport Mattress is a great mattress for back pain. It provides pressure relief for your entire body, gently supporting your shoulders while providing firm support for your hips and lower back. Plus, the three-zone pocketed coils contain a wool blend quilt layer for added breathability, helping you regulate your body temperature – which is particularly important during pregnancy. 

Other mattresses best for back pain and temperature regulation include the Tempur Rhapsody Pro Luxe 32 Viscoelastic Mattress and Sealy Posturepedic Climate Cool Colorado Flex Adjustable Mattress.

Give your bub a warm welcome home

Creating a cosy and inviting nursery is a fun part of preparing for your little one’s arrival. Our Boori range – which is exclusive to Forty Winks – includes an array of stylish and functional kids’ furniture made from high-quality materials and sustainable wood sources. 

Designed with safety and durability in mind, the Forty Winks Boori range can help create a nurturing environment for your precious bundle. Plus, you’ll rest easier each night knowing your child has everything they need, from the moment you first bring them home through the various stages of their childhood.

Ready to get a better night’s sleep? Explore our range of mattresses today.

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