Sleep deprivation plagues most new mums-to-be. Even though you’re probably exhausted when it’s time to head for bed, the odds are good that you’ll find yourself feeling wide awake when you’d rather be getting some much-needed rest. Whether you have trouble falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, or both, these tips for beating pregnancy-related insomnia are for you.
Create A Comforting Bedtime Routine
If your sleep habits aren’t the best, now is a good time to make some changes that will help you relax. Start setting yourself up for sleep success by ending your screen time at least an hour before you plan to go to bed. The blue light from your phone, tablet, computer, or TV disrupts your body’s circadian rhythm, promoting wakefulness.
Taking a warm bath (not hot) or shower or having some ‘me time’ can help you relax and make you feel a little bit sleepier. Unfortunately, you’ll have to stay away from jacuzzis, hot tubs, and saunas until after your little one arrives.
If you feel restless and need something to distract yourself, try getting reacquainted with old-fashioned books and magazines! Add a warm yellow-toned light to your lamp to create a soothing atmosphere. Place a nightlight in the bathroom so you don’t have to turn on bright overhead lights that might leave you feeling more awake.
Your comfort level has a huge impact on your ability to relax completely and sleep well. There are quite a few tricks you can try when it’s time to rest:
- Add extra pillows – Try tucking a pillow between your knees to ease aching hips and support your tummy with another pillow or two as it expands to accommodate your growing baby. If multiple pillows aren’t for you, look for a special pregnancy pillow to help keep your body aligned.
- Replace your old mattress if it’s no longer comfortable – Pregnancy changes the curve of your spine and uncomfortable pressure points can happen as a result. Additionally, the first few years of your little one’s life will place even more physical and mental demands on you, making sleep even more important than it already is. The best mattresses for pregnancy are those that combat back pain by providing a combination of cushioning and support; you can find a helpful resource on this here.
- Change your sleeping position and watch what you eat – If heartburn is an issue for you as it is for many pregnant women, take stock of your diet and make sure that you’re not eating food that’s too spicy or greasy. Unfortunately, there are times when your baby’s position or size can crowd your stomach, making heartburn or acid reflux an issue even when you’re sticking to bland options – and the problem probably gets worse each time you lie down. Recliner Life state that a comfortable recliner is your best friend on nights when heartburn leads to insomnia; it keeps your torso elevated while supporting your back and legs completely.
Optimise Your Bedroom For Sleep
Everyone benefits from sleeping in a cool, quiet environment that’s perfectly dark. The optimal sleeping temperature is between 60 and 67 degrees for most people, although some prefer temperatures in the low 70s. Cool air encourages a slight dip in your core temperature, which preps your body for deep sleep. Darkness is important since even small amounts of light can prevent the body from entering the deepest phases of sleep. If complete silence isn’t for you, consider a white noise machine or a fan to muffle louder sounds.
Stop Restless Legs Syndrome
Iron and folate deficiency are among the most common causes of restless legs syndrome during pregnancy. If an uncomfortable sensation in your legs keeps you awake, you may need more iron and folate. Your doctor can confirm whether you’re deficient with a quick blood test. Adding more whole grains, leafy greens, and fortified foods to your diet can usually help you find relief.
Check Your Caffeine Habit
While it might not be necessary to completely avoid caffeine during pregnancy, cutting way back will help increase your odds of beating insomnia. If you’re still indulging in coffee or other caffeinated drinks, enjoy them during morning hours only. Not only will this help you fall asleep when the time comes, it’ll help cut back on nighttime trips to the bathroom, which can increase due to caffeine’s diuretic effect.
Treat Yourself To Gentle Exercise
While this pregnancy sleep tip might seem counter intuitive, daily activity helps keep your circadian rhythm balanced so you enjoy sound sleep and feel more energetic during the daytime. As an added bonus, exercise can help you combat varicose veins, help you stay strong during the birth process, and more. Walking, swimming, gentle yoga, and stretching are usually good options but you’ll want to check with your doctor to find out which exercises are best for you.
If you choose to exercise during pregnancy, try to get your workout in before evening since exercising within about four hours of bedtime can leave you feeling wide awake.
Don’t Lie Awake
If you’re suffering from pregnancy-related insomnia and sleep eludes you completely, it can be helpful to distract yourself with a book, magazine, puzzle, or craft project until you feel sleepy again. You can also try meditation.
Pregnancy and insomnia typically go hand in hand due to hormone changes, back pain, heartburn, and restless legs. At the same time, there’s no need to allow it to leave you feeling like a zombie. If lifestyle modifications aren’t working, talk with your healthcare provider to see whether pregnancy-safe medications are an option.