Pregnant and struggling to sleep? Deep breathing exercises could be the key to a better night's rest

Using relaxation techniques can enhance the quality of your sleep, help you feel calmer, and improve your wellbeing

Pregnant woman sleeping
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Getting a good night's rest is essential to how we feel the next day. That's true for all of us and is especially important for pregnant women. But if you're finding it hard to get good quality sleep, researchers have found that deep breathing exercises can help.

One of the best ways to bring some calm into your day is to roll out one of the best yoga mats and take a prenatal yoga class. This is a great way to maintain muscle strength, improve flexibility, and stay active while pregnant.

However, research published in the Indonesian journal Halaman Olahraga Nusantara found that three weeks of deep breathing exercises, similar to the techniques you practice in yoga, can improve the quality of your sleep.

The team recruited 24 pregnant women in their third trimester for the study and enrolled them in a program that combined deep breathing exercises and muscle relaxation techniques to examine the effect.

Across the three-week study, the women completed the exercises three times per week, totaling nine sessions during the trial. They also filled in Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index questionnaires, standardized forms for self-reporting information about their sleep, before and after the experiment.

Pregnant woman doing yoga

(Image credit: Getty Images)

After analyzing the data, the team found that "progressive muscle relaxation and slow deep breathing has an effect on improving the sleep quality of pregnant women in the third trimester."

Although this study looked at the effect during the final trimester, the authors suggest that starting these relaxation techniques earlier in your pregnancy may have a more beneficial effect as it allows your body to adapt to the routines.

You don't need to spend many sleepless hours focusing on your breath to start feeling the benefits either. This one-minute breathing exercise can help reduce stress and relax your muscles, whether you're about to turn in or want a calm start to the day.

It's also very similar to mindfulness meditation, which helps you bring attention to your breath and encourages you to focus on the present moment. Whether you choose to meditate every day or more casually, it can help you unwind and find a sense of calm.

If you'd prefer some movement, there's also evidence that prenatal yoga can increase feelings of calm, improve your mental wellbeing, feel better throughout the day and more prepared for when its time for your baby to arrive.

James Frew
Fitness Editor

James is a London-based journalist and Fitness Editor at Fit&Well. He has over five years experience in fitness tech, including time spent as the Buyer’s Guide Editor and Staff Writer at technology publication MakeUseOf. In 2014 he was diagnosed with a chronic health condition, which spurred his interest in health, fitness, and lifestyle management.

In the years since, he has become a devoted meditator, experimented with workout styles and exercises, and used various gadgets to monitor his health. In recent times, James has been absorbed by the intersection between mental health, fitness, sustainability, and environmentalism. When not concerning himself with health and technology, James can be found excitedly checking out each week’s New Music Friday releases.