6 tips for dealing with pregnancy insomnia
Insomnia, or difficulty falling or staying asleep, can reach its highest point in a woman’s life during pregnancy, and it affects nearly eighty percent of pregnant women.
Today’s easier-said-than-done tip, though, is that if you’ve been experiencing insomnia, you shouldn’t worry about it. You shouldn’t worry about it because it’s not going to hurt Baby – he can sleep while you’re still up and about – and you shouldn’t worry because, in a beautifully frustrating trap, worrying about insomnia can make insomnia worse.
Most sleep aids, including herbal supplements, are not recommended for use during pregnancy, so in addition to not worrying, it can be hard to find ways to get past insomnia. Some strategies may work better if your insomnia is caused by physical discomfort, while others may work better if the problem is your racing mind. The important thing is to try different strategies until you find the one that works best for you.
Yes, this one might sound like it falls under the same umbrella as ‘don’t worry,’ but it can be more active than that.
Instead of just trying to not dwell on something, which can feel impossible, try to replace the worry that grows with every moment you lie there and can’t fall asleep with a focus on your breathing, and on keeping those breaths slow and even.
This can work best if you make sure you’re already tired before you get into bed and try to sleep – try to get into a relaxing, pre-bedtime wind-down routine (the same way you’ll start trying to do with Baby a few months down the line!) so that your body can start preparing for sleep.
Keep it moving
The routine you set up to help yourself start preparing for sleep can start as early as adding some gentle exercise to your morning. Exercising later in the day, rather than helping you wind down, can actually add to your tendency towards insomnia, but walking, jogging, or swimming earlier in the day can definitely be steps in the right direction for sleep.
Squeaky clean for sweet dreams
Another positive addition to your relaxing, pre-bedtime routine could be a warm bath or shower. Even if you’re a habitually morning shower-er, give it a try. The warm water can help relax your body, and the time to think while you’re bathing can help settle your mind.
A warm drink before bed can have a similar relaxing effect to a warm bath. Some teas you might have enjoyed before pregnancy are not recommended while you’re pregnant, but a glass of warm milk, or warm water with honey and lemon juice, could help send you off to sleep.
The importance of support
Especially later in your third trimester, some loss of sleep can be caused by aches and strains from the changes in your body, and from trying to figure out how to sleep in positions you’re not used to.
Investing in a few extra pillows – whether they’re specially-designed pregnancy pillows, or just a few fluffy throw-pillows from an outlet store – can help with that. A few extra pillows can support your belly or legs and lead to a more comfortable night’s sleep.
Know when to call it quits
For a little while, anyway. If you’ve been lying in bed unable to sleep for, say, half an hour, you’re probably not getting much rest anyway. Get up, move around a little, and try to do something else, like read a book, or do some little, repetitive chores for an hour or so before you try to go back to sleep.
- “How to deal with pregnancy insomnia.” Sleep. National Sleep Foundation, n.d. Web. Accessed 12/6/17. Available at https://sleep.org/articles/pregnancy-insomnia/.
- Ali M. Hashmi, et al. “Insomnia during pregnancy: Diagnosis and Rational Interventions.” Pak J Med Science. 32(4): 1030–1037. Jul-Aug 2016. Web.