Sleep can be elusive at any time of life, but pregnancy comes with a multitude of sleep-related complications for many women. Whether your mind is racing with new baby plans or you’re suffering from trip after trip to the bathroom, a good night’s sleep can be difficult to achieve. But there is one simple thing you can do to sleep better: exercise.
Sleeping for Two
Even if you’ve been a deep sleeper for your entire life, pregnancy can wreak havoc on your sleep schedule. In fact, according to a National Sleep Foundation study, a whopping 78 percent of women report sleep disturbances during pregnancy.
Unfortunately, lack of sleep can lead to extreme fatigue, as well as to heightening physical and emotional distress. Because of this, it is critically important for pregnant women to prioritize sleep. And the earlier your solve your sleep issues during pregnancy, the healthier you’ll be.
But poor sleep doesn’t just affect your wellbeing during pregnancy, it can also affect your labor and delivery. Research from the University of California at San Francisco determined that women who got less than six hours of sleep every night not only had longer labors but were almost five times more likely to have c-sections. The takeaway? Quality and quantity of sleep are essential prenatal care measures.
How Exercise Can Help
Sleep problems can manifest in different ways. Insomnia, restless legs syndrome (RLS), sleep apnea, and nocturnal gastroesophageal reflux (nighttime GERD) are all common sleep disturbances in pregnancy. Exercise offers relief for each of these conditions.
For example, both sleep apnea and GERD can be exacerbated by excess weight. By keeping your weight in check through regular exercise you can help yourself feel — and sleep! — better.
RLS is a problem that affects as many as 15 percent of women during pregnancy. Research has shown that moderate exercise and stretching can help alleviate the symptoms of RLS. Walking, swimming and stretching are safe and effective techniques for managing this condition.
Regular exercise also offers benefits as an insomnia cure. After all, your mind can’t race if it’s exhausted!
Check with your doctor if you’re having severe sleep issues during pregnancy. Also, be sure to get the approval of your health care practitioners before beginning a new workout regimen.
Refrain from exercising within three hours of bedtime if a good night’s sleep is your end game. Working out late in the evening can actually have the opposite effect.
If you’re having trouble finding the motivation to exercise, partner with a friend or sign up for a class. Stocking up on stylish, well-fitting maternity activewear can also offer an incentive to get moving.
Sleep related issues can be a serious problem during pregnancy. After all, the expression isn’t “slept like a pregnant woman.” However, exercise can help you enjoy the sleep you crave. There’s one more reason why sleep is so important during pregnancy. After your baby is born, sleep may be more elusive than ever! Sleeping soundly during pregnancy can help you be more prepared for the sweet sleepless days ahead.
Do you have any sleep-aiding tips or tricks to share? Post in the Comments section below!
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