What to Do When You are Pregnant and Can’t Sleep
Sleeping under normal circumstances can be a challenge, but when you are pregnant – all the things that prevent a good night’s sleep (discomfort, stress, a racing mind) are exacerbated. The result? The perfect pregnancy insomnia storm.
Although you can experience trouble with sleeping throughout your pregnancy, most women usually experience pregnancy insomnia during early pregnancy and the third trimester.
Common culprits of insomnia during pregnancy
For many women, sleep disruption already happens much too easily. The effects of pregnancy on the body can can be a recipe for disaster when it comes to getting a good night’s rest. Think about it:
- Back and/or lower back pain
- Round ligament pain
- Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)
- Discomfort/sleep position challenges due to increased belly and chest size
- Shortness of breath due to weight gain
- Increased nasal congestion
- Sleep apnea
- Fetal movement and fetal positioning
- Heartburn (nocturnal gastroesophageal reflux disease, a.k.a. GERD)
- Frequent urination
- Leg cramps
- Constrictive bedtime clothing
- Cycle of being too hot and/or too cold
- Pillows and mattress are too hard or too soft
It’s always important to get proper rest, but even more so when you’re expecting. If any of the above issues are impacting your sleep while pregnant, please contact your primary care physician.
Proven sleeping tips to combat insomnia during pregnancy
Hit the Hay When the Sleepiness Hits - As your pregnancy progresses, the amount of strain on your body and energy will continue to increase – and you’ll feel it! Don’t fight the cues telling you to sleep or nap. If you’re extremely tired or drifting off, go to sleep! Sure, bedtime may look like 7:00 p.m. right now, but your body is letting you know it’s time to rest up!
Maintain a Sleep Cycle – Some people go with the flow. Others live and die by a rigid schedule. A strict sleeping schedule can be your friend when pregnant. So, even if you are a “roll with the punches” kind of girl, try setting bedtimes and wake-up times on your phone and abiding by them!
Limit Fluids and Caffeine - Gotta pee? That’s common during pregnancy, especially at night. Staying hydrated is key while pregnant, but limiting the amount of liquid ingested in the hours leading up to bedtime, as well as the type of drink (avoid caffeine after noon), may help you sleep and stay asleep longer.
Say No to Spicy and Sugary Foods - Ingesting food that is spicy can often lead to heartburn, whereas sugary food can cause some to be jittery during the time they should be winding down. Eating a light, nutritional and protein-packed snack (or two) before bedtime is recommended.
Eat the Right Amount for Your Needs - The amount a woman needs to eat fluctuates substantially throughout pregnancy. One result of this? You may find yourself increasingly hungry due to under-eating and simply stuffed due to overeating. Both instances can lead to sleep disruption. Finding balance is key.
Establish a Relaxation Retreat and Routine at Home - Create a relaxation routine observed daily or frequently during the week. This may include quiet alone time, journaling, reading magazines or books, taking a warm bath, listening to soothing music, practicing yoga or meditation and so on. This time is reserved only for tasks that bring you down from a wound up day - that means limiting screen time and electronics! Learning breathing techniques or how to meditate can help calm you down and become more grounded. There are apps for all these things!
Strive for Mental Well-Being – We know - easier said than done. But TRY to go to bed with a clear, uncluttered mind. Stress, self-doubt, worry, among many other things, cloud our mind during the time when we need it to be the quietest. Many women find relief in seeking out those who can listen to their concerns, journaling their worries or discussing their feelings with a medical professional. All of these things will help you identify your triggers, so you can learn and utilize ways to work through the thoughts keeping you awake at night.
Ask for Help – So many of us are afraid to do this! Being a multi-tasking, do-it-all, never-say-never wonder woman is what we THINK is expected of us. But the truth? Others want to help us succeed. Address some of that stress and anxiety (see above!) by letting individuals and companies do some heavy lifting. For example, 1 Natural Way is a company that can help you get a breast pump for free through insurance (you do almost nothing). If you have the means, give yourself a break from cleaning by hiring a professional or have a wholesome ready-to-cook meal delivered.
Find Ways to Sleep Comfortably - Head to the store and buy an extra pillow (or six) or pregnancy pillow that will help you sleep at night. It is SO worth it! Sometimes napping upright in a recliner, in a guest bedroom (all alone) or on a couch does the sleep-inducing trick. In bed, remember to sleep on your left side, if at all possible. This encourages the blood flow and nutrients to your little one, your kidneys and uterus. Sleeping on your back or stomach is discouraged.
Modify Things to Your Liking - If you need blackout curtains, hang them up (it’s OK if your blackout curtain is a blanket)! If you need to set the temperature of the house to a chilly temp, do it! If you need the room to smell like lavender, go for it! If you find your pregnancy body is less restricted in your partner’s t-shirt or boxers, wear them! This is a time in your life when it’s OK to have it your way.
Sleep is key to being a healthy mama and finding ways to support healthy, restful, solid sleep sessions is imperative.