When it’s 2am, your bump is growing, and you are researching ways to combat pregnancy insomnia, life really does feel tragic. During the day, progesterone is making you feel tired no matter how much you sleep. At night, your mind is racing, your legs are twitching, and come what may you just cannot sleep. As a pregnancy insomnia veteran who boo-hooed to her midwife and GP (family doctor) on several occasions, I can more than empathize with this. Fortunately, both gave me a few ways to combat pregnancy insomnia that are natural and do work. Eventually.
1. Show Your Bedroom Who is Boss
I loved to live around my bed when I was pregnant, which was mistake no. 1. Basically, the more time you spend on your laptop, doing work, or watching TV while in bed, the less your brain associates the place with sleeping. In addition to this, letting clutter build up also creates a negative sleeping environment. Make sure you designate your bedroom for sleeping and sex only. Keep it tidy and air it for 15-minutes every day to make it a cosy place to sleep. This is one of my favorite ways to combat pregnancy insomnia, as it gave me the perfect excuse to throw stuff out!
2. Eat Smaller Meals
Not only will your progesterone make you tired during the day, it’s going to play havoc with your digestive system too. When the time for peristalsis comes, your digestive system will be nice and relaxed. As your lovely little one grows, your uterus will begin to press down on part of your GI tract. Finally, your stools are harder thanks to your body sucking up extra water to bulk up plasma volume for your placenta. All of this makes digestion harder, which in turn keeps you up at night, so eat six smaller meals to prevent everything backing up, which can make nocturnal digestion less common. Complement this by eating less in the evenings.
3. Walk Each Day
Your body knows what it needs to do to accommodate all that bleeding when you give birth: increase your clotting factors. This is great on the day, but it does mean your circulation is a little sluggish at night. I was a leg twitcher while pregnant, much to the dismay of my partner. Walking each day gets everything moving and reduces your risk of clots. This makes it a great way to combat restless leg syndrome, which isn’t as hilarious as it sounds when you are pregnant and dealing with it. I also found that a walk was enough to just tire me into a sleep!
4. Set Yourself a Bedtime
Bedtimes are no longer just for toddlers and kids. They work wonders for pregnant ladies too. Sleep hygiene experts recommend setting a specific time each night and waking at the same time each morning. This sets your sleep-wake cycles, encouraging your brain to fall in line. Now, there is a little contention over whether you should be taking any naps. I, personally, stuck with the whole keeping them under 20 minutes thing to avoid falling into a deep sleep. When managing a toddler AND pregnancy insomnia, power napping is a sanity saver.
5. Dump Your Thoughts
There is no such thing as emptying your mind completely. However, a great family doctor once suggested that I write down everything that is on my mind for one-minute before bedtime. She could see that I was anxious and had a lot to rid myself of. Within a week of doing this, I most certainly found getting off to sleep became much easier. The idea is that your mind will be less busy as you sleep.
6. De-Stress before Bed
Weirdly, I really got into watching the news before bedtime when I was pregnant. This meant I was going to sleep with hurricanes and terrorists on the brain. Let’s be honest, that isn’t really going to allow for a good night’s sleep. In the hour before bed, don’t do anything intellectually rigorous or stressful. This helps you to relax and makes you feel less wired as you try to sleep.
7. Get out of Bed
The more time you spend in bed worrying about sleep, the more you will associate your bed with anxiety. If, after 20-minutes, you still cannot sleep, get up and do something else. Try reading a trashy novel rather than doing something too taxing. Return when you feel sleep and repeat when needed. When doing this, try to avoid harsh lights.
Ultimately, this will end. And, yes, I get that is the last thing you want to read when you are pregnant and tired, because it doesn’t help you right now. However, with a little practice, these methods can work. Try to make them part of your routine, and consider throwing in a little yoga if you have enough time! Do you have any other tips or tricks to share?