The best sleep position during pregnancy is to sleep on your left side with your knees bent and a pillow between your legs. Sleeping on your left side prevent the liver from applying pressure on the uterus and promote blood circulation to the uterus and the fetus. Increased blood circulation can help alleviate low back pain. Sleeping on the left side can improve the body’s lymphatic system (located predominantly on the left side of the body) which carries infection fighting white blood cells throughout your body and helps with detoxification.
Some common sleep problems that occur during pregnancy include the following:
Insomnia – physical discomfort and stress are common causes during pregnancy. Avoid drug therapy as this can harm a developing fetus. Meditation and herbal tea can help relax both the muscles and the mind; and don’t forget to turn off all electronic communications devices one hour prior to bedtime to calm the mind. Regularly scheduled acupuncture treatments can help with overall pain and stress relief.
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) – this can present as a twitching or tingling of the legs that occurs in the evening or during the night which can disturb sleep. Stretching the legs can temporarily relieve these symptoms. Prenatal vitamins that include folate and iron supplements can help reduce these symptoms. Gently massaging your legs just prior to bed time can also help alleviate RLS.
Sleep apnea – sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which breathing is repeatedly interrupted during sleep. If you are experiencing sleep apnea, schedule a consultation with your md.
Nocturnal gastroesophageal reflux (nighttime GERD or heartburn) is a common experience during pregnancy. Avoid spicy and acidic foods to help minimize nocturnal GERD. “grazing” or ingesting small meals frequently during the day rather than eating three large meals daily can help cut down on GERD. Consult with your md regarding any over the counter antacids.
Frequent nighttime urination – as the fetus grows larger, it puts pressure on the urinary bladder. This is a common in all pregnancies. Drink water continuously during the daytime hours, then cut back 1 or 2 hours prior to bedtime. Keep in mind that this is a temporary inconvenience.