Insomnia during pregnancy can have many causes. Discomfort caused by the growing baby, increased frequency of urination, reflux, hormonal changes and stress can all make it hard to fall asleep and stay asleep. After three pregnancies, I have figured out some ways to ease the insomnia that comes with pregnancy.
Insomnia during Pregnancy Caused by the Growing Baby
As your abdomen expands, it’s harder to find a comfortable position to sleep at night. The best position is to sleep on your side. Some people prefer a pillow under the belly; a full body pillow may work in this case. I found a pillow between the legs to be the most comfortable way to fall asleep.
Trouble Sleeping from Increased Urination
With the growing baby, there is more pressure on the bladder causing the need to urinate more frequently. Try to reduce your intake of liquids a couple of hours before bedtime. I would take sips of ice water to reduce thirst or suck on an ice cube.
Waking Up at Night Due to Reflux
Many pregnant women get reflux, especially during the third trimester. Try to avoid eating a meal a few hours before bedtime. If reflux persists, propping your upper body with pillows may help. For me, having a few crackers by the bed helped ease reflux a little as symptoms occurred.
Discomfort from Hormonal Changes Affecting Sleep
Hormonal changes during pregnancy can make everything seem uncomfortable. Changing your environment during this time can be helpful. For example, if you need it darker, use room-darkening drapes or even an eye-shade. If there’s too much noise you can use earplugs. If it’s too quiet, try a white noise machine, or listen to soothing nature tapes. I liked to wear silky pajamas to avoid the discomfort of adjusting my clothing at night.
Sometimes hormones can change your sleep pattern. Try avoiding naps for several days to see if it helps you sleep better during the night. If that doesn’t work, you may have to adjust your schedule to allow for less sleep at night with a nap during the day. Don’t try to go to bed too early. Be sure you are tired before attempting sleep.
Another culprit is watching TV or reading while in bed. Make your bedroom solely a place to sleep. If you need to do light activities before bed, try doing them in another room. As you get tired, you’ll have to get up to go to bed, but your mind will soon associate the bedroom with sleep.
Insomnia during Pregnancy Caused by Stress
Pregnancy itself can be stressful, especially with the upcoming birth. If you’re worried about the baby or anything to do with your pregnancy, be sure to get your doctor’s reassurance. Put your future responsibilities on hold as much as possible before trying to sleep. Most likely there is nothing you can do at bedtime that can’t wait until morning. Make it a bedtime ritual to write down questions, lists and even notes in a journal to help ease your burdens.
Avoid exercise after dinner. With your doctor’s approval, there are many stretches and meditations you can do for evening relaxation to reduce the effects of stress. Using aromatherapy can be very helpful for your mood. I liked to use scented candles in the evenings. Ann MacDonald has a lits of calming scents in her article Aromatherapy Scents to Calm1.
Warm milk, a massage or a warm bath (if your doctor allows) are other methods to relax.
Ease Insomnia during Pregnancy
All of these methods may not work for you. If you’ve tried everything and still can’t get to sleep, you may need to talk to your doctor about prescribed sleep aids that are safe for you and your baby. However, once you identify the reason(s) for your difficulty in sleeping, you should be able to benefit from these tips to ease insomnia during pregnancy.
1) Ann MacDonald; Aromatherapy Scents to Calm; essortment