Pregnancy Insomnia? Try these tips.
Alex Olsen is a 34-year-old expectant mama, preparing to welcome her first baby in February 2018. Alex lives in Sydney with her husband. Alex thinks they’re having a boy; he thinks they’re having a girl. Watch this space!
You’re growing a little person inside you, so you know it’s more important than ever to nurture your body – and that includes getting a good night’s sleep. The problem is, pregnancy can make sleep illusive – even before the baby arrives. You feel more fatigued than ever, yet when you hit the pillow you spend your nights tossing and turning (whilst shooting daggers at your peacefully sleeping partner).
This pregnancy has definitely tested my slumber skills. I quizzed my group of fellow mamas-to-be and asked for their advice on overcoming sleeplessness. Here’s what we came up with…
After several recommendations, magnesium supplements have made it to my shopping list this week. This magic mineral is touted for its ability to relieve insomnia. It can help reduce cortisol, the ‘stress hormone’ that can keep us awake, and helps our muscles to relax.
Room temperature and fresh air
My midwife mentioned that fresh air can play a role in the quality of sleep. Fresh air helps us to feel relaxed and comfortable, thus giving us a better night’s sleep. A drop in your body temperature can also prompt tiredness, so a cooler room can help.
Lately, I’ve been applying lavender essential oil to the soles of my feet before bed – and my sleep has improved. Lavender is known to reduce anxiety and emotional stress. Many baby products contain lavender scents for that reason – to encourage relaxation and sleep for our bubs. So why wouldn’t the same work for us?! The soles of the feet are ideal for the application of essential oils – they have larger pores which ‘suck’ the oil into your bloodstream for faster action.
It’s widely recommended that we cut-off screen time a couple of hours before bed. I do find that scrolling on my phone can be too stimulating at night, when the focus should be on winding down. Added to that, the blue light from our phones suppresses the sleep hormone, melatonin. If you must use your phone at night, set up ‘night shift’ mode, which will automatically dim the light at a set time.
On the other hand, sometimes technology can help with sleep issues. Some people find that listening to a Podcast or watching some mindless YouTube content will help them drift to sleep. The trick is to find a happy medium that works for you and to create discipline around screen use if you think it could be affecting your sleep.
Establishing a routine
Do you have a bedtime routine? It’s funny how parents apply so much effort to establishing sleep routines for babies, yet we can be so lax with our own regime. Setting nightly cues might be just the ticket to signaling our brains that it’s time to rest. Some suggestions include going for a relaxed evening stroll, taking a bath with soothing salts, going to bed at the same time each night, and reading in bed.
This one’s a no-brainer – but still worth mentioning. Caffeine isn’t recommended in pregnancy, though a ‘safe’ limit of 200mg daily has been established. Fact: the struggle is real when it comes to pregnancy fatigue; sometimes a pregnant lady needs a pick-me-up. I find that a single daily cup of black tea gives me a nice boost, though I make sure to drink it before midday so the caffeine can run its course before bedtime.
Do you find it hard to sleep when you have worries on your mind, or when you have too much on your plate? I do. Unfortunately, pregnancy is a ripe time for both of these things. Be mindful about allowing yourself to become stressed. This might involve simply choosing peace over drama (letting things go). It might involve reducing your workload and accepting help from others. Or, it might involve having difficult conversations and resolving any conflicts before they fester. Practising mindfulness and meditation are also wonderful ways to stay attuned to your needs and to create a sense of calm.
The ABC game
A personal ‘invention’ of mine, this tactic can help relax you if you’re having trouble quieting your mind. Pick a category (for example; fruits, animals, cities, bakery treats) then run through the alphabet in your mind, thinking of an item in your category for each letter. You might find that focusing on something non-stressful will shift you into relaxation mode. With any luck, you’ll be asleep before ‘XYZ’.
For a while, I was waking up between 2 and 3am feeling ravenous. Getting up to eat a snack helped me to fall back to sleep, though a better solution has been to have a snack before bedtime. Complex carbs, bananas, sweet potatoes, and cherries are all winners when it comes to sleep-inducing snacks.
Incorporating a few of these tips into our routine will do us the world of good, both before and after baby’s arrival, so stay committed and persevere – your body and mind will thank you.