Although pregnancy is miraculous and beautiful, it can also be quite uncomfortable. Often raging hormones, changing bodies, and bulging bladders render sleepless nights and tiresome days. One of the most irritating prenatal appointments I had as an expectant mother occurred when my obstetrician inquired how I was sleeping. I responded, "I barely sleep at all between my restless leg syndrome, aching back, and progesterone induced insomnia. In fact, I think I slept about 4 hours these past 4 days. Can you recommend anything that might help?" He smiled, chuckled, and said "if you think you're tired now...just wait until your baby comes." I remember leaving that prenatal appointment fuming at his careless dismissal of my concerns. Here are a few tips that may help you get a few extra hours of shuteye.
1. Bathe Before Bed- Various studies indicate that showering or bathing before bed can induce sleep. Sleep experts recommend bathing about an hour before your planned bedtime to allow your body temperature to cool before you drift off (1). Bathing not only cleanses the body but relaxes your muscles and opens your pores and sinus passages. Not a bad way to end the day!
2. Take Your Magnesium-Magnesium is such a wonder supplement when it comes to pregnancy. Not only does it prevent hypertension and premature labor (2) but it promotes better sleep, calms restless legs, wards off nausea, and helps manage muscle aches and pains. Before taking magnesium, always consult your health care provider about proper dosage and efficacy. Epsom salt baths are another nice way to unwind, relax, and get your magnesium in!
3. Pillows, Pillows, and More Pillows- As pregnancy progresses so too does the nightly tossing and turning in order to achieve comfort. Purchasing a pregnancy pillow that provides support between the legs and at the small of the back is essential. If a pregnancy pillow is not in your budget, placing a pillow between your knees, ankles, and at the small of your back while lying on your side will probably increase your comfort significantly.
4. Get Some Exercise- Even just a little bit of exercise can improve your sleep quality and quantity. It is often recommended as a treatment for insomnia. Through physical exercise your body expounds energy and prepares your body to rest more deeply. (3). Do your best to take a walk or do some physical activity every day.
5. Warm Red Raspberry Leaf Tea & A Good Binge- Even though most of the time the afore mentioned tips resolve insomnia, every once in a while you have one of those nights where none of them work. Instead of becoming stressed, anxious, and frustrated that you're not sleeping, its best to sip some red raspberry leaf tea (tone that uterus!) and put on a good show to binge or read a good book. This diversion is good and will take your mind off of your insomnia. Usually after a little while you will feel as though you're tired enough to sleep. Sometimes you just need to set the re-set button.
6. Relaxed State of Mind-Then there are the times where even the re-set button doesn't work. When this happens I recommend getting comfortable in a recliner or your own bed and just focus on your breathing and relaxing. During these moments I always found it helpful to say in my head, "even if I can't sleep, at least my body is at rest." Imperfect rest is better than no rest at all.
Hopefully these few tips help you find some comfort and rest. If your insomnia becomes recurring please talk to your healthcare provider about it. You need rest. You deserve rest. And no, this is not the kind of "training" you need before your baby arrives.
(1) Abrams, Abigail. "How a Night Shower Improves Your Sleep." Time Magazine. February 21, 2017, http://time.com/4665489/hot-shower-before-bed/.
(2) Kubala, Jillian. "Supplements During Pregnancy: What's Safe and What's Not." Healthline. December 21, 2017.https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/supplements-during-pregnancy.
(3) Breus, Michael J. Dr. "The Benefits of Exercise for Sleep." The Sleep Doctor. May 22, 2017. https://thesleepdoctor.com/2017/05/22/benefits-exercise-sleep/