Pregnancy and sleep seem to have a love-hate relationship at times. Newly pregnant mamas may find themselves enjoying a deeper sleep than ever before: when pregnant, you may, in fact, sleep like a baby. But as your body changes and expands to accommodate that little one growing inside you, sleep may become the ultimate challenge. You may toss and turn throughout the night, with chronic insomnia caused by everything from heartburn to leg cramps to the growing anxiety every new parent faces: “am I really equipped to take care of another human being?”
This kind of anxiety is perfectly normal, and you are not alone in experiencing it. Take heart in the fact that all the other mamas around you have been down this road, and you are not a bad mama-to-be if you don’t think pregnancy is the most blissful thing you have ever experienced. It’s hard work! And a lack of sleep can turn even the most charming among us into absolute monsters (see any sleep-deprived toddler for a living, breathing illustration of this phenomenon).
If a good night’s sleep is in short supply in your world right now, we have some tips for all-natural sleep aids. You may be tempted to reach for that OTC sleeping pill you favored before you had a bun in the oven, and some consider them safe, but many expectant mamas want to avoid medications altogether during pregnancy due to potentially adverse effects. Seeking out natural remedies for sleeplessness will ensure you get the rest you need while baby stays safe and healthy! We will get you started with some ideas below, and of course, you should always keep an open dialogue with your ob-gyn about introducing any supplements or other changes during your pregnancy.
1. Is there a Vitamin ZZZZZZZ….?
Some new mamas swear by herbal and dietary supplements during pregnancy; folic acid or iron, for example, may ward off the restless leg syndrome that is keeping you up at night. Others swear by melatonin (which is a hormone that is naturally produced in your body), though results are inconclusive about its safety during pregnancy. You and your doctor should discuss any OTC supplements you want to introduce during pregnancy, and if you want to avoid them altogether, there are also a number of proactive steps you can take to improve the quality of your sleep.
2. Limit Screen Time!
Look, we understand how tempting it is to google “possible birth defects” as you lie in bed at night. But trust us: nothing good will come of this. You will only find yourself in a rabbit hole on the information superhighway. The same goes for scrolling through your friends’ Instagram feeds or just taking a “quick peek” at Facebook before you turn in for the night. This kind of distraction will affect your sleep quality and make your insomnia during pregnancy worse. Put that phone down, Mama. Better yet: switch it to “do not disturb” mode and focus on getting the rest you desperately need, not the tropical vacation pics posted by your junior high best friend’s cousin you hardly knew in the first place. That’s just going to send you into the “will I ever look good in a bathing suit again” panic, which is no place to be for a mama who should be falling asleep.
3. Stay Active!
In order to sleep well, you need to exercise well. This is true for anyone, pregnant or not. Physical activity during the day will result in better sleep at night, so ensure you are getting a brisk walk in or whatever type of exercise you and your doctor agree will suit you best during pregnancy. Avoid exercising just before bed, though, which can make it difficult to wind down and drift off to sleep. If you simply cannot squeeze the physical activity in during the daylight hours, you might consider some gentle yoga and stretching in the evening.
4. Warm Baths Work Wonders…
But NOT hot ones. Mamas-to-be should avoid overly hot temperatures in the bathtub during pregnancy (because the extremely high temperatures can affect your blood pressure and your uterus), but a warm bath before bedtime may help you relax and get ready for sleep. Try adding lavender-scented Epsom salt to make it even more luxurious! And consider treating yourself to a new pair of maternity pajamas, too. Spanx has a line for Target – Assets by Spanx – that will keep you feeling comfy on a budget!
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5. Think Before You Swallow
As the bedtime hour approaches, consider everything you put into your mouth as a possible enemy of quality sleep. Spicy food? NO. Resist. You will inevitably pay for it later with heartburn that keeps you restless. TOO much water? Try to cut back in the hours before bedtime. You will already be forced to get up and use the bathroom throughout the night, but you might be able to cut down on the number of times if you don’t chug-a-lug just before bed.
And speaking of bedtime, try to establish a set routine of going to bed at the same time every night.
6. CBD Oil: Does it Really Cure Everything?
Unless you have been living under a rock, you have heard about the growing use of CBD oil to treat everything from anxiety and depression to skin issues to seizures. CBD oil has become a wildly popular remedy for every ailment under the sun, and some expectant mamas are using it to treat nausea and sleeplessness.
However, it’s safety for use during pregnancy is still under review, and you should discuss this first with your doctor.
7. Get a Comfortable Bed
Now is not the time to try and wrestle with an old mattress. Your body will ache or feel unrested if you don't have a proper mattress to sleep with. If you have an older or uncomfortable mattress, investing in one now will serve you for years to come and make for a much more restful pregnancy. Here are a few beds that are recommended during pregnancy:
Treatment of insomnia for pregnant women will vary depending on your individual symptoms. Poor sleep can really drag you down and make your day-to-day seem impossible sometimes, so talk to your doctor or ob-gyn about your sleep habits. They’ll let you know how many hours of sleep you really need depending on your trimester, and help you get back to the restful sleep you deserve!