What is Insomnia? The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines insomnia as a prolonged and usually abnormal inability to get enough sleep. This can be caused by a difficulty to fall asleep, waking repeatedly overnight, difficulty falling back to sleep, or restless sleep. During pregnancy this is most common in the first and third trimester. Things that can contribute to lack of sleep are pregnancy hormones, increased need to pee, congestion, and heartburn. During the first trimester nausea, breast tenderness, frequent urination, and dreams can keep you up at night. During the third trimester the main contributor to lack of sleep can simply be your inability to get comfortable. This can be accentuated by back pain, leg cramps, breast tenderness, and heartburn which are all common complaints at the end of pregnancy. Anxiety or stress about the birth or motherhood can also keep you awake at night. Insomnia is not harmful to your baby; it is a common (and annoying!) pregnancy symptom.
Some ways to combat insomnia is to create a sleep routine and start practicing healthy routines during the day. Go to bed the same time each night and start your routine with a relaxing activity. About an hour before bedtime turn off your TV and stop using your phone, laptop, or tablet, these devices can disrupt your circadian rhythm. Your circadian rhythm is your natural sleep-wake pattern run by an internal clock. Some relaxing practices can be a warm bath before bed or curling up with a good book. Staying hydrated during the day but limiting liquids after 7 p.m. can keep you hydrated overnight while minimizing your need to get up to pee. Also, try to avoid caffeine after lunchtime as it can keep you up at night. Consider eating an early dinner and having a light snack before bed to avoid heartburn overnight. A warm glass of milk, maybe with a splash of vanilla extract, can help you relax and feel sleepy right before bed. Make sure you are eating a healthy diet and taking a good prenatal vitamin; vitamin D and magnesium can help with sleep. Getting enough exercise during the day can help you sleep better at night as well. Try to get a minimum of 30 minutes of activity or exercise each day. See my blog "E is for Exercise" for safe ways to exercise during pregnancy.
As with everything in pregnancy, getting a good night sleep can be all about getting comfortable. In your first trimester sleep whatever way is most comfortable. After around twenty weeks however, you must sleep on your side, so use pillows to get comfortable; place one pillow between your knees, one beneath your belly, one under your arm, and maybe even one between your ankles. The ideal environment for sleep is quiet, dark, and cool, try to avoid turning on the lights when you get up to use the bathroom or grab a glass of water at night.
If none of these tips help, talk to your doctor about safe medications to take while pregnant that can help you sleep at night.
What tips can you share that helped you with insomnia during pregnancy? Next week I will be blogging on the letter J… J is for Jacuzzi.