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Pregnancy comes with tons of side effects, from the good (ah, that pregnant glow), to the bad (ugh, swollen ankles), and the ugly (woof, morning sickness).
But one of the things many women don’t expect when they’re expecting is trouble falling or staying asleep, aka insomnia.
Insomnia during pregnancy is completely normal… and completely annoying. In fact, a 2018 study that followed 486 pregnancies discovered that 44.2 percent of those in the study experienced insomnia in their first trimester.
The condition can be especially irksome during that first trimester, when your body is starting to adjust to that preggo life. The combo of rampant hormones and your changing body causes your sleep cycle to fall out of whack (flashbacks to middle school sex ed, anyone?).
Thanks to a lovely hormone called progesterone, you tend to feel tired more often during pregnancy, and daytime naps may become more common.
An increase in siesta time can throw a wrench in your normal sleep schedule. This, in turn, makes it harder to fall asleep at bedtime or enjoy quality sleep during the night.
Other insomnia triggers include:
- having to pee… all the time
- bodily discomfort (think back pain, leg cramps, tender breasts, etc.)
So, how can you beat insomnia to catch some quality Zzz’s? Try some of these home remedies:
Create a sleep ritual
They say the best defense is a good offense. Creating a healthy sleep routine can help stop insomnia in its tracks.
Try establishing a set bedtime and creating a relaxing nighttime ritual. Things like running a calming bath, enlisting your partner to give you a nightly foot massage, or sipping on a warm mug of moon milk can get your body ready for a good night’s sleep.
Put away that cell phone (or tablet, e-reader, or television) at least an hour before sleepy time. They emit blue light, which can be harmful to your sleep cycle.
Taking dietary supplements can boost sleep quality during pregnancy. It’s important to talk to your doctor about what — if any — dietary supplements are best for you, and what your body needs during pregnancy.
Your healthcare provider can also test for vitamin or nutritional deficiencies. You can discuss together which supplements can help you get a good night’s sleep.
Cognitive behavioral therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that helps people process their feelings and change specific behaviors.
CBT-I is specifically tailored for people with insomnia, and can help address other potential underlying issues like depression or anxiety.
People being treated with CBT-I learn to understand their insomnia, while finding ways to express and manage how they feel about sleep. They can then pinpoint healthy changes to help them overcome their battle with insomnia.
Relax your body, relax your mind.
An overactive or anxious mind can keep you from the rest and relaxation you need. Finding ways to chill can help you slide into a good night’s sleep faster than “Bachelor in Paradise” contestants slide into each others’ DMs.
According to a 2013 Canadian study, practices like meditation, massage, acupuncture, and prenatal hatha yoga are possible methods of reaching a relaxed state and overcoming insomnia, particularly during pregnancy.
Another option is progressive relaxation, where each muscle is relaxed one by one. With this slow and steady method, you start at the toes and work your way up through your entire body to achieve a state of total relaxation. #Bliss
Work it, work it
Okay, so working out may be the last thing you want to do while pregnant. However! Light exercise during the day can help your body sleep when it’s time for lights out at night.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists shared that exercising during your pregnancy can also:
- ease back pain and constipation
- strengthen your heart and overall fitness
- promote healthy weight gain during pregnancy and weight loss afterward
- decrease risk of a C-section birth or gestational diabetes
According to a 2016 study, 30 minutes of exercise, 4 to 6 hours before you go to bed is best.
Talk to your doctor before embarking on any fitness journey while pregnant to determine what activities and frequency is best for you.
Eating for two, eating for sleep
While it’s A-OK to give in to those pregnancy cravings (no matter how weird they may get), eating enough quality foods can contribute to quality sleep.
Eating a diet rich in protein during pregnancy is key to keeping your blood sugar levels steady, which prevents you from being up in the wee hours of the night.
It’s also important to enjoy your meals slowly to avoid a wicked case of heartburn, which can also mess with your sleep.
Try not to have heavy meals too close to bedtime. If you find your tummy is a-rumblin’ late at night, fix yourself a light snack, a warm glass of milk, or a hot cup of herbal tea.
Hydration is key whether or not you’re pregnant, so be sure to drink lots of sweet H2O during the day. A morning cuppa joe or tea to kickstart your day is fine, but try to avoid caffeine or sugary drinks in the afternoon and evening.
To keep yourself from having to pee all night long (*cue Lionel Richie*), after 7 p.m., go easy on all liquids. Your bladder will thank you… and so will your sleep.
Comfort is king, especially at bedtime. To create a sleep environment fit for cozy royalty that will help promote a healthy sleep cycle, try the following tips:
- Transform your bedroom into a quiet place (no homicidal aliens here!) that’s dark and cool.
- Choose comfy PJs and/or a well-fitted sleep bra.
- Make your bed as cozy as possible; choose comfy pillows and blankets that make you want to curl up!
Experiencing insomnia is fairly common during pregnancy, especially early on. While it isn’t cause for alarm, it can be pretty annoying.
There are several things you can do from the comfort of your own home to overcome insomnia. Of course, it’s always best to consult your healthcare provider before trying any of these tips and tricks to make sure you’re doing what’s best for your body and your pregnancy.