Everyone always talks about how little sleep they get once baby arrives. What they don’t tell you is that insomnia and interrupted sleep can be just as big an issue while you’re still pregnant.
Seasoned mums will tell you it’s your body preparing for middle-of-the-night feeds. But it’s pretty hard to get a good night’s rest with hormones running wild, legs getting restless, joints aching and a bladder constantly crying out to be emptied.
To help you take on pregnancy insomnia and catch up on all the precious zees your body needs while baking a bun, we’ve put together a complete list of helpful tips other mums recommend.
Avoid an empty tummy
If you’re still in the earlier stages of pregnancy, you may very quickly discover that morning sickness is not something that only happens in the morning. Empty tummies are one of the biggest nausea triggers for many women, and when is your tummy at its emptiest? Overnight. Keep a box of plain biscuits handy to keep nausea at bay and help you beat pregnancy insomnia.
And ditch the rich food
Once the morning sickness goes away, you’ll probably get the joy of meeting its buddy, heartburn. Smaller more frequent meals, particularly before bedtime may be helpful here, as well as avoiding spicy or overly rich, creamy foods.
Ditch couch snoozing
‘I just need a minute to sit down and then I will be good to go again’. If you are inclined to rest for long periods in front of the television or even doze on the couch before bed, there’s a good chance your appetite for sleep will be hindered. You’re much better off staying engaged and having an early bedtime than dozing for 5-10 minutes and subsequently not feeling tired for another couple of hours or more.
Lie on the left
Lying on your side, preferably your left, is also considered the best and safest way to sleep when pregnant – for you and your baby. Sleeping on your back, particularly in the third trimester not only puts a lot of pressure on your spine and can also interfere with your circulation and keep you awake.
Dim it down
If you are making constant nocturnal visits to the bathroom, keep things nice and dim. Turning on a bright light every couple of hours in the middle of the night is a sure-fire way to confuse your poor body completely. If you have super bright bathroom lights, consider installing a small nightlight to guide your way.
Stop sipping near bedtime
I need to pee…again, and again. Sound familiar? Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot you can do about this one, particularly in the last trimester when you have a baby using your bladder as a soccer ball. It’s really important to stay hydrated but you can always try to limit your fluid intake at night.
Overtired = over wired
We know this can be hard to control when you’re in the grips of insomnia but keep this in mind when thinking about a time for bed. The moment it gets too late you can essentially miss the bus for sleep and become wired making it much harder to wind down.
Got the sniffles? Try a humidifier
Just when you thought pregnancy couldn’t get sexier, your nose has turned on the waterworks. Nasal congestion, also known as pregnancy rhinitis, is a really common issue for many pregnant women and we all know how tough it is to sleep when you have a blocked or runny nose.
Consider using a humidifier in your room and elevate your pillow a little to help your sinuses drain.
Take your worries out of the bedroom
If you have a lot on your mind before bed, being on emails or running through mental lists while in bed can really keep you alert and less likely to relax into a good sleep. Try writing a list in a room other than the bedroom prior to heading off to bed. Out of sight out of mind.
Leg cramps and other bodily aches are common in pregnancy and a common culprit when it comes to sleep issues like insomnia. They’re thought to be caused by low calcium and magnesium levels in the body. Thankfully, there are ways to combat the aches and pains, including treating yourself to a professional pregnancy massage.
Also, have a chat with your health provider if you’re suffering from aching muscles as some pregnancy-friendly supplements may help.
Say no to screen time
The blue light emitted from your device actually suppresses the sleep hormone, melatonin, so in the name of a calming bedtime routine, it’s best to resist picking up your phone or tablet in bed and pick up a book instead. You can check your socials in the morning.
Move it, mumma
There’s never been a better time to include regular low-impact exercise in your life than when you’re expecting. Not only is it a fantastic way to improve the quality of your pregnancy sleep and build stamina (which you’ll need once bub arrives), but it helps alleviate insomnia-causing issues like Restless Legs Syndrome.
Find the perfect pillow
In the later stages of pregnancy, back and hip pain are probably going to be your biggest contributors to a lack of sleep and insomnia. Luckily a pregnancy pillow can be your new best friend here.
But if you don’t have one of these new cuddly bed buddies, just pop a pillow between your knees and roll onto your side. This tends to better support your hips and so you might not be quite as achy.
Take time to de-stress
The very thought of bringing a new human into this world, whilst exciting, is also stressful. And it’s only natural that all those thoughts are going to impact the ability to fall asleep. Pregnancy yoga, meditation, a stroll in the park or writing in a pregnancy journal helps take your mind off the magnitude of becoming a mum.
And when it’s severe pregnancy insomnia …
Chat to your GP about your pregnancy sleep if you are waking up feeling breathless or experiencing severe disturbances. It’s important to check that there is nothing serious going on.
Hang in there, the struggles will all be worth it!