If you’re pregnant, then congratulations!

It’s an exciting time for you and your family. Throughout the 9-month period, your body and mind experience quite a lot of changes. Your skin glows, you get the VIP treatment from everyone, and you can feel proud that you’re bringing another beautiful baby into the world.

Pregnancy is a time when you need to pay particular attention to your sleep habits as the amount of sleep you get may have an impact on the development and growth of your baby.1 Unfortunately, sleep disturbances during pregnancy are common, however if they occur frequently, this can lead to insomnia.2

Everyone needs good quality sleep each night to awaken at their best, but this is even more important while you’re pregnant.  

To help you sleep well and manage insomnia when pregnant, here is some more information and 5 general tips to try and reclaim your slumber.

Difficulties sleeping while pregnant

It’s quite normal for pregnant women to feel tired.

After all, your body is doing a lot more work, spending its energy on creating a new life! As a result, you may find that you don’t sleep as deeply as you used to3, which can cause you to wake up throughout the night.

This is all the more reason to spend more time resting or sleeping to compensate.

If you experience ongoing trouble sleeping, this can lead to insomnia, which is the medical term given to inadequate or poor-quality sleep due to a number of factors such as difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or getting back to sleep if you wake during the night, waking too early, or unrefreshing sleep.4

What causes insomnia during pregnancy?

Insomnia is a complex sleeping disorder because it can be the result of so many different causes.

Specific to pregnancy, hormonal shifts, feeling anxious about giving birth or restless legs syndrome5 have all been shown to impact sleep while pregnant.

Regardless of the reason, it’s best to find ways to treat insomnia early rather than allow it to linger on. So, if you suspect that you’re experiencing the symptoms of insomnia, try these simple tips to take control and awaken at your best.

1. Manage your liquids

While you’re pregnant, you will find that you spend a lot of time going to the bathroom.

To help reduce the number of toilet trips during the night that break up your sleep, try going to the toilet just before heading to bed and avoid drinking too much close to bedtime.

2. Improve your sleep hygiene

Sleep hygiene refers to good habits that will improve the quality of sleep you get each night. While everyone should practice good sleep hygiene, it’s especially important during pregnancy.

Healthy sleep hygiene habits include the following:

  •     Only sleep in your bed rather than anywhere
  •     Go to bed and wake up at consistent times each day
  •     Keep the bedroom dark and cool
  •     Ensure your bed is comfortable
  •     Do not use screens or electronics in bed, such as phones or the TV
  •     If you can’t drift off to sleep, get up for 15 minutes and relax before trying again

3. Focus on relaxation

An active mind can make nodding off and staying asleep difficult.

Relaxation techniques like meditation or pre-natal yoga may help quiet your thoughts, slow your mind and be more at peace to get the best sleep. 

4. Get (a little) active

Yes, it sounds a bit counterproductive to exercise when you’re pregnant, however studies suggest that gentle exercise for about 30 minutes a day around 4 to 6 hours before your bedtime may help you sleep better.6

But, to be on the safe side, make sure you consult your medical professional or GP before you begin a workout routine.

5. Lie on your side

Everyone sleeps differently, but if you are used to sleeping on your back or front, these positions can become quite uncomfortable due to the weight of your baby.

Instead, try sleeping on your side. This may lessen your discomfort, especially in the later months of being pregnant, and help improve your quality of sleep.

 

Citations

1. Mum’s sleep matters—the effect of sleep on an unborn baby. Medical Xpress

2. Insomnia during pregnancy: Diagnosis and Rational Interventions. Pak J Med Sci. 2016 Jul-Aug; 32(4): 1030–1037. doi: 10.12669/pjms.324.10421.

3. Pregnancy and Sleep. Sleep Health Foundation, Australia.

4. Definition of Insomnia MedicineNet.  accessed 5 Nov 2019.

5. Sleep disorders in pregnancy. Obstet Med. 2009 Sep; 2(3): 100–106.

6. Insomnia during pregnancy: Diagnosis and Rational Interventions. Pak J Med Sci. 2016 Jul-Aug; 32(4): 1030–1037.

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