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Whether it’s hormones, excitement, anxiety or fear, insomnia plagues a lot of pregnant women. No matter how hard you try – and how tired you may be – getting to sleep and staying asleep is an impossible feat. What causes insomnia during pregnancy, and how can you fight back to finally get that good night of sleep you deserve?
What Causes Insomnia When You’re Pregnant?
You’ve never had trouble sleeping before, but now that you’re pregnant, your body can’t seem to settle down at night. What gives?
Insomnia can be caused by a number of different things during pregnancy, and it’s incredibly common during the third trimester – about 75% of moms-to-be suffer with it.
A few of the most common causes of pregnancy-related insomnia include:
- Hormonal changes
- Frequent urination
- Anxiety, fear or anxiousness about giving birth
- Physical discomfort (i.e. tender breasts and backaches)
Some babies are more active at night, which can keep you up until all hours of the morning.
Symptoms of Insomnia
- Trouble falling asleep
- Waking up repeatedly during the night
- An unrefreshing sleep
- Difficulty getting back to sleep
Some pregnant women battle with insomnia every (or nearly every) night, while others only experience it occasionally throughout their pregnancy.
11 Simple Ways to Beat Pregnancy Insomnia
No matter how often it affects you, insomnia is never easy to deal with. Lack of sleep will make mom-to-be irritable, tired and unproductive. Here are 11 ways to beat insomnia and finally get a good night’s rest.
1. Put Your Worries to Rest
Worry, fear and anticipation of your baby’s arrival can make it difficult to get to sleep at night. And to make matters worse, most moms worry about having insomnia on top of all their other worries. The good news is insomnia can’t hurt your baby, so relax and put your worries to rest.
For some moms, letting go of fear and worry is all they need to get a good night of sleep.
2. Eat Mindfully
You’re eating for two now, so you may be tempted to wolf down your food at dinner. But taking your time and eating at a leisurely pace can help prevent heartburn, which is a major contributor to insomnia.
If you can, try to avoid eating too close to bedtime. Eating too late in the evening can leave you feeling too energized to sleep – or too uncomfortable with a full belly.
3. Voice Your Fears and Concerns
If you’re worried, anxious or fearful about giving birth or your pregnancy in general, voice your concerns to your friends and loved ones. Keeping emotions bottled up inside can exacerbate the problem. If something is keeping you up at night and you can’t talk to someone about it, try writing it down.
4. Cut Back on Caffeine
Caffeine can keep you up at night, so cut back on your intake. Doctors recommend limiting caffeine during pregnancy anyway, so heeding this advice will help you prevent insomnia and avoid other health issues.
If you must have caffeine, make sure that you don’t have it too late in the afternoon, as it can keep you awake at night.
Don’t forget, caffeine includes more than just coffee – it also includes chocolate, black tea, soft drinks, energy drinks, and many snack foods.
5. Cut Your Fluid Intake before Bed
Now that you’re pregnant, you’re running to the bathroom twice as many times during the day – and at night. Getting up three to four times each night to use the bathroom can make it difficult to get a good night of rest. Try filling your daily fluid intake requirements earlier in the day, so you can cut back on your bathroom trips at night.
6. Get More Exercise
A little exercise each day can keep insomnia at bay. Just try to avoid working out too close to bed time, as this can have the opposite effect. Go for a walk, try a gentle yoga class, or go for a swim. There are lots of ways to stay active, and doing so can help you sleep better at night.
7. Set a Bedtime Routine
Our bodies have a miraculous way of adapting to routines. If you’re having trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep, try creating a bedtime routine to get your body accustomed to going to bed at a certain time.
Be consistent with your routine. Always go to bed and wake up at the same time – even on the weekend.
8. Try Aromatherapy
Essential oils can have a calming effect on the body, making it easier to get to sleep and stay asleep at night.
Calming essential oils include:
- Ylang ylang
Try adding these essential oils to a diffuser or warm bath to maximize its relaxation benefits. You can also apply a few drops to a tissue, and place it underneath your pillow at night.
If you do decide to use a diffuser, never allow it to run for more than 20 minutes, as it can cause headaches or make you feel sick.
9. Create a Comfortable Oasis
It’s impossible to sleep if you’re uncomfortable at night. Adjust the temperature of your room to make it more comfortable. Make sure that your pillows and mattress are giving you enough support. And if you’re overheated at night, try opening a window to keep the room cool.
10. Get Busy
No – we don’t mean get up and start coupon clipping or watching TV. We mean get busy with your partner, if you’re in the mood. Sex can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep because it causes you to release endorphins, those feel-good chemicals that relax your body.
11. Try Relaxation Techniques
If your brain won’t shut down at night, try relaxation techniques to calm your mind and help you get relaxed enough to fall asleep.
Try imagining yourself in a peaceful, relaxing place. For some women, that “happy” place is the beach. For others, it’s a path of flowers. It doesn’t matter what or where that relaxing place is, envision yourself there. Imagine that you’re watching clouds fly, one after another. Envisioning movement will keep your mind engaged, so your mind stops wandering. Envision every little detail to immerse yourself in the scene.
Insomnia affects most pregnant women at some point. If you’re having trouble sleeping, don’t stress about it, and try using one of the tips above to relax your mind and body for an energizing night of sleep.