Insomnia is defined as persistent trouble falling asleep or staying asleep for long periods. Do you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night, unable to go back to sleep? Do you wake up too early in the morning and feel tired as soon as you do? You could be suffering from insomnia.
Insomnia symptoms tend to become more noticeable in the later trimesters, as a growing baby bump can make it challenging to get comfy in bed. Several other factors contribute to pregnancy insomnia such as:
- Hormonal changes or imbalances
- Frequent bathroom trips
- Leg cramps
- High metabolism, which makes you feel warm
- Feelings of anxiety about giving birth
Lately, do you feel as if you’re not getting any sleep at all at night? Then give these 8 handy tips for tackling pregnancy insomnia a try:
Whenever possible, go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. Create a soothing nightly routine to wind down and prepare yourself for bed with:
- Light reading (nothing too exciting or suspenseful)
- Soothing music
- A warm bath with calming essential oils like lavender, chamomile, or valerian
- Yoga poses or other relaxation exercises
- Sex (as long as you don’t have any contraindications)
Pick the activities that work best for you and adjust when necessary.
Daily pregnancy exercise (customized according to how far along you are, overall health, and contraindications) should help you fall asleep more easily. Just remember not to overdo it, drink plenty of water, and only work out early in the day. Otherwise, exercise can have the exact opposite effect, leaving you feeling energized and wide awake.
Your doctor’s probably already suggested cutting out caffeine altogether during pregnancy. Many studies show that caffeine readily crosses your placenta, and your baby’s metabolism isn’t equipped to handle it.
If you’re having trouble kicking the habit, reduce consumption to 300 milligrams (i.e., 2 cups of coffee or 6 cups of tea) per day.
In the event of pregnancy insomnia, you may want to slash your caffeine intake further, especially in the late afternoon and evening.
Drinking lots of water while pregnant is critical since your growing baby is literally 75 percent water. Stay fully hydrated throughout the day, but try to decrease water intake in the hours before bedtime to prevent multiple trips to the bathroom.
Your bedroom should be a sanctuary. This means your minimizing screen time in the room and keeping it a cool, comfortable temperature. It should be fairly dark (use blackout curtains, if necessary) and do whatever you can to create an ideal space for sleeping.
Next, check your pillows and mattress to ensure they’re both providing the proper amount of support. Many women enjoy using a body pillow or regular-sized pillow placed between their legs to relieve lower back pain.
Lastly, remember to reserve your bed for only two things: sex and sleep. Engaging in other activities while in bed encourages you to associate it with being awake and alert.
Take the time to find a sleep position that’s both relaxing for you and safe for your baby. Sleeping on your back is generally not recommended after the first trimester because it restricts blood flow from your lower body to your heart. This can lead to feelings of dizziness and lightheadedness.
From a medical standpoint, sleeping on your stomach is fine, since your uterine walls are thick enough to protect your baby. However, it’s not the most comfortable option.
Side sleeping is usually the preferred position during pregnancy. It allows maximum blood flow and may be modified as follows:
- Place a pillow underneath your abdomen to relieve back pain.
- Prop up the top half of your body to alleviate heartburn and address breathing issues (if you’re experiencing any shortness of breath).
Because they emit blue light which interferes with your ability to fall asleep, avoid using your smartphone, tablet, or other devices late at night. Blue light suppresses your natural melatonin levels, so it’s wise to power down at least an hour before bedtime.
If you’ve gone to bed but can’t fall asleep within 15–20 minutes, then distract yourself with a soothing activity. Browse the pages of a book or magazine until you feel tired enough to fall asleep. This can help prevent the anxiety that sometimes springs up from staring at the clock or worrying about if you’ll get enough sleep.
For many, melatonin is an effective treatment for insomnia. Although your body naturally produces its own melatonin, incorporating a supplement into your routine can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
In the absence of any hard scientific evidence, it’s still a bit unclear whether melatonin is safe to use for pregnancy insomnia. The best thing to do is discuss it with your doctor to determine if it’s right for you.