As I drove to work this morning I listened to a podcast by Katy Bowman, a biomechanist, about SLEEP.
If you've never heard of Katy, she is a proponent of nutritional movement and varying our movement in our daily activity for optimal physical health. Our beliefs align on so many matters, which is why I enjoy listening to her podcasts.
This morning was no exception.
The style of this particular episode was answering questions from listeners and the first listener was an expecting mom.
Thus, the reason why I'm sharing my thoughts to all you lovely ladies.
To paraphrase this moms question,
"should I sleep on my left side?"
She is generally a very mobile sleeper, but had heard that during pregnancy she should sleep on her left side. She however, feels that this is causing one side of her body to be "overworked" and the other side to be "underworked."
To be honest, I didn't completely agree with Katy's answer, which was essentially, "I don't know."
But she did have some good insight, especially since she did some digging into the research to see if there was any evidence to support this position while sleeping during pregnancy.
This is what she found....NOTHING!
There is no research to back up the very commonly prescribed, sleep on your left side during pregnancy.
However, there is evidence to show that if a mom lays on her back for long periods of time it can slow down blood flow to the fetus. This is because of the weight of the fetus within the uterus pressing back onto our large blood vessels in our gut that shunt blood back to our heart.
The cool thing is our bodies will tell us by becoming light headed, nauseous or uncomfortable, or the baby will slow her movements.
Then typically all we have to do is roll to our left side, because the vessels are predominately on the right side of our spine. Or sit up.
How does this relate to sleeping then?
Hopefully for most of us we are sleeping for at least 7 hours. Of course during pregnancy this may be altered because of discomfort, our bladder, hunger, or just being restless.
But if we are sleeping for longer than 1 hour stretches, this is a long time for our body to be in one position, right?
So the theory is, if you start on your left side during pregnancy, you are reducing the compression on your vessels.
Then through the night if you find yourself in other positions, it's okay.
Remember, your body will let you know when to move.
I am a mobile sleeper and am constantly in different positions, there was no exception during my pregnancy. But I didn't stay on my left side the whole time.
I respected and listened to my body.
The other thing to consider is if you are laying on your side to reduce pressure on your vessels, then wouldn't laying on an incline also provide this relief?
So if you are at all worried about having to always be on your side, but it's getting super uncomfortable, there are ways around it.
This can be said for any sleeping position, if it's uncomfortable, maybe there are ways around it or modifications you can do, or activities you can do prior to bed to provide relief.
The big take away is to honor your body and listen to what it is telling you. Take the time to vary your movement and stretch through out the day to reduce restlessness and improve your body awareness over all.